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THE OUTLINE OF 
MYTHOLOGY 

Clje age of JFable 

Cfje aige of ai:f)ibalrj> 

Hesenbs; of Cfjarlemagne 



BY 

THOMAS BULFINCH 



COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME 



REVISED AND ENLARGED, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 



THE REVIEW OF REVIEWS CORPORATION 
Publishers New York 

PiiI>Iished by arrangement with Thomas Y. Crowell Co. 




Copyright, 1913, 
By THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY. 



Printed in the United Statics of America 



PUBLISHERS' PREFACE 



No new edition of Bulfinch's classic work can be con- 
sidered complete without some notice of the American 
scholar to whose wide erudition and painstaking care 
it stands as a perpetual monument. "The Age of Fable" 
has come to be ranked with older books like "Pilgrim's 
Progress," "Gulliver's Travels," "The Arabian Nights," 
"Robinson Crusoe," and five or six other productions of 
world-wide renown as a work with which every one 
must claim some acquaintance before his education can 
be called really complete. Many readers of the present 
edition will probably recall coming in contact with the 
work as children, and, it may be added, will no doubt 
discover from a fresh perusal the source of numerous 
bits of knowledge that have remained stored in their 
minds since those early years. Yet to the majority of 
this great circle of readers and students the name Bul- 
finch in itself has no significance. 

Thomas Bulfinch was a native of Boston, Mass., where 
he was born in 1796. His boyhood was spent in that 
city, and he prepared for college in the Boston schools. 
He finished his scholastic training at Han-ard College, 
and after taking his degree was for a period a teacher 
in his home city. For a long time later in life he was 
employed as an accountant in the Boston Merchants' 
Bank. His leisure time he used for further pursuit of 
the classical studies which he had begun at Harvard, 
and his chief pleasure in life lay in writing out the re- 
sults of his reading, in simple, condensed form for young 
or busy readers. The plan he followed in this work, to 
give it the greatest possible usefulness, is set forth in 
the Author's Preface. 

Bulfinch died in 1867, with the following list of books 
to his credit: "Hebrew Lyrical History," 1853; "The 

jii 



iv PUBLISHERS' PREFACE 

Age of Fable," First Edition, 1855 ; "The Age of Chiv- 
alry," 1858; "The Boy Inventor," 1860; "Legends of 
Charlemagne, or Romance of the Middle Ages," 1863; 
"Poetry of the Age of Fable," 1863; "Oregon and El- 
dorado, or Romance of the Rivers," 1860. 

In this complete edition of his mythological and leg- 
endary lore "The Age of Fable," "The Age of Chivalry," 
and "Legends of Charlemagne" are included. Scrupulous 
care has been taken to follow the original text of Bul- 
finch, but attention should be called to some additional 
sections which have been inserted to add to the rounded 
completeness of the work, and which the publishers be- 
lieve would meet with the sanction of the author him- 
self, as in no way intruding upon his original plan but 
simply carrying it out in more complete detail. The 
section on Northern Mythology has been enlarged by a 
retelling of the epic of the "Nibelungen Lied," together 
with a summary of Wagner's version of the legend in 
his series of music-dramas. Under the head of "Hero 
Myths of the British Race" have been included out- 
lines of the stories of Beowulf, Cuchulain, Hereward 
the Wake, and Robin Hood. Of the verse extracts 
which occur throughout the text, thirty or more have 
been added from literature which has appeared since 
Bulfinch's time, extracts that he would have been likely 
to quote had he personally supervised the new edition. 

Finally, the index has been thoroughly overhauled and, 
indeed, remade. All the proper names in the work 
have been entered, with references to the pages where 
they occur, and a concise explanation or definition of 
each has been given. Thus what was a mere list of 
names in the original has been enlarged into a small 
classical and mythological dictionary, which it is hoped 
will prove valuable for reference purposefs not necessar- 
ily connected with "The Age of Fable." 

Acknowledgments are due the writings of Dr. Oliver 
Huckel for information on the point of Wagner's ren- 
dering of the Nibelungen legend, and M. I. Ebbutt's 
authoritative volume on "Flero Myths and Legends 
of the British Race," from which much of the informa- 
tion concerning the British heroes has been obtained. 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 



If no other knowledge deserves to be called useful 
but that which helps to enlarge our possessions or to 
raise our station in society, then Mythology has no claim 
to the appellation. But if that which tends to make us 
happier and better can be called useful then we claim 
that epithet for our subject. For Mythology is the 
handmaid of literature ; and literature is one of the best 
allies of virtue and promoters of happiness. 

Without a knowledge of mythology much of the ele- 
gant literature of our own language cannot be under- 
stood and appreciated. When Byron calls Rome "the 
Niobe of nations," or says of Venice, "She looks a Sea- 
Cybele fresh from ocean," he calls up to the mind of 
one familiar with our subject, illustrations more vivid 
and striking than the pencil could furnish, but which 
are lost to the reader ignorant of mythology. Milton 
abounds in similar allusions. The short poem "Comus" 
contains more than thirty such, and the ode "On the 
Morning of the Nativity" half as many. Through 
"Paradise Lost" they are scattered profusely. This is 
one reason why we often hear persons by no means il- 
literate say that they cannot enjoy Milton. But were 
these persons to add to their more solid acquirements the 
easy learning of this little volume, much of the poetry 
of Milton which has appeared to them "harsh and 
crabbed" would be found "musical as is Apollo's lute." 
Our citations, taken from more than twenty-five poets, 
from Spenser to Longfellow, will show how general has 
been the practice of borrowing illustrations from myth- 
ology. 

The prose writers also avail themselves of the same 
source of elegant and suggestive illustration. One can 
hardly take up a number of the "Edinburgh" or "Quar- 



vi AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

terly Review" without meeting with instances. In Ma- 
caulay's article on Milton there are twenty such. 

But how is mythology to be taught to one who does 
not learn it through the medium of the languages of 
Greece and Rome? To devote study to a species of learn- 
ing which relates wholly to false marvels and obsolete 
faiths is not to be expected of the general reader in a 
practical age like this. The time even of the young is 
claimed by so many sciences of facts and things that 
little can be spared for set treatises on a science of mere 
fancy. 

But may not the requisite knowledge of the subject be 
acquired by reading the ancient poets in translations? 
We reply, the field is too extensive for a preparatory 
course; and these very translations require some pre- 
vious knowledge of the subject to make them intelli- 
gible. Let any one who doubts it read the first page 
of the "^neid," and see what he can make of "the hatred 
of Juno," the "decree of the Parcse," the "judgment of 
Paris," and the "honors of Ganymede," without this 
knowledge. 

Shall we be told that answers to such queries may 
be found in notes, or by a reference to the Classical 
Dictionary? We reply, the interruption of one's read- 
ing by either process is so annoying that most readers 
prefer to let an allusion pass unapprehended rather than 
submit to it. Moreover, such sources give us only the 
dry facts without any of the charm of the original nar- 
rative ; and what is a poetical myth when stripped of 
its poetry? The story of Ceyx and Halcyone, which 
fills a chapter in our book, occupies but eight lines 
in the best (Smith's) Classical Dictionary; and so of 
others. / 

Our work is an attempt to solve this problem, by 
telling the stories of mythology in such a manner as to 
make them a source of amusement. We have endeav- 
ored to tell them correctly, according to the ancient 
authorities, so that when the reader finds them referred 
to he may not be at a loss to recognize the reference. 
Thus we hope to teach mythology not as a study, but as 
a relaxation from study; to give our work the charm 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE vii 

of a story-book, yet by means of it to impart a knowledge 
of an important branch of education. The index at the 
end will adapt it to the purposes of reference, and make 
it a Classical Dictionary for the parlor. 

Most of the classical legends in "Stories of Gods and 
Heroes" are derived from Ovid and Virgil. They are 
not literally translated, for, in the author's opinion, 
poetry translated into literal prose is very unattractive 
reading. Neither are they in verse, as well for other 
reasons as from a conviction that to translate faithfully 
under all the embarrassments of rhyme and measure is 
impossible. The attempt has been made to tell the stories 
in prose, preserving so much of the poetry as resides in 
the thoughts and is separable from the language itself, 
and omitting those amplifications which are not suited to 
the altered form. 

The Northern mythological stories are copied with 
some abridgment from Mallet's "Northern Antiquities." 
These chapters, with those on Oriental and Egyptian 
mythology, seemed necessary to complete the subject, 
though it is believed these topics have not usually 
been presented in the same volume with the classical 
fables. 

The poetical citations so freely introduced are ex- 
pected to answer several valuable purposes. They will 
tend to fix in memory the leading fact of each story, they 
will help to the attainment of a correct pronunciation of 
the proper names, and they will enrich the memory with 
many gems of poetry, some of them such as are most 
frequently quoted or alluded to in reading and con- 
versation. 

Having chosen mythology as connected zmth litera- 
ture for our province, we have endeavored to omit noth- 
ing which the reader of elegant literature is likely to 
find occasion for. Such stories and parts of stories as 
are offensive to pure taste and good morals are not given. 
But such stories are not often referred to, and if they 
occasionally should be, the English reader need feel 
no mortification in confessing his ignorance of them. 

Our work is not for the learned, nor for the theolo- 
gian, nor for the philosopher, but for the reader of 



viii AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

English literature, of either sex, who wishes to com- 
prehend the allusions so frequently made by public 
speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets, and those which 
occur in polite conversation. 



In the "Stories of Gods and Heroes" the compiler has 
endeavored to impart the pleasures of classical learning- 
to the English reader, by presenting the stories cf Pagan 
mythology in a form adapted to modern taste. In "King 
Arthur and His Knights" and "The Mabinogeon" the 
attempt has been made to treat in the same way the 
stories of the second "age of fable," the age which 
witnessed the dawn of the several states of Modern 
Europe. 

It is believed that this presentation of a literature 
which held unrivalled sway over the imaginations of 
our ancestors, for many centuries, will not be without 
benefit to the reader, in addition to the amusement it 
may afford. The tales, though not to be trusted for 
their facts, are worthy of all credit as pictures of man- 
ners; and it is beginning to be held that the manners 
and modes of thinking of an age are a more important 
part of its history than the conflicts of its peoples, gen- 
erally leading to no result. Besides this, the literature 
of romance is a treasure-house of poetical material, to 
which modern poets frequently resort. The Italian poets, 
Dante and Ariosto, the English, Spenser, Scott, and Ten- 
nyson, and our own Longfellow and Lowell, are ex- 
amples of this. 

These legends are so connected with each other, so 
consistently adapted to a group of characters strongly 
individualized in Arthur, Launcelot, and their compeers, 
and so lighted up by the fires of imagination and inven- 
tion, that they seem as well adapted to the poet's pur- 
pose as the legends of the Greek and Roman mytholog>\ 
And if every well-educated young person is expected to 
know the story of the Golden Fleece, why is the quest 
of the Sangreal less worthy of his acquaintance? Or if 
an allusion to the shield of Achilles ought not to oass 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE. ix 

unapprehended, why should one to Excalibar, the famous 
sword of Arthur? 

"Of Arthur, who, to upper light restored, 
With that terrific sword. 
Which yet he brandishes for future war. 
Shall lift his country's fame above the polar star."* 

It is an additional recommendation of our subject, that 
it tends to cherish in our minds the idea of the source 
from which we sprung-. We are entitled to our full 
share in the glories and recollections of the land of our 
forefathers, down to the time of colonization thence. 
The associations which spring from this source must be 
fruitful of good influences ; among which not the least 
valuable is the increased enjoyment which such associ- 
ations afford to the American traveller when he visits 
England, and sets his foot upon any of her renowned 
localities. 



The legends of Charlemagne and his peers are neces- , 
sary to complete the subject. 

In an age when intellectual darkness enveloped West- 
ern Europe, a constellation of brilliant writers arose in 
Italy. Of these, Pulci (born in 1432). Roiardo (1434), 
and Ariosto (1474} took for their subjects the romantic, 
fables which had for many ages been transmitted in the 
lays of bards and the legends of monkish chroniclers. 
These fables they arranged in order, adorned with the 
emljellishments of fancy, amplified from their own in- 
vention, and stamped with immortality. It may safely 
be asserted that as long as civilization shall endure these 
productions will retain their place among the most cher- 
ished creations of human genius. 

In "Stories of Gods and Heroes," "King Arthur and 
His Knights" and "The Mabinogeon" the aim has been 
to supply to the modern reader such knowledge of the 
fables of classical and medineval literature as is needed to 
render intelligible the allusions which occur in reading 
and conversation. The "Legends of Charlemagne" is 

' Wordsworth. 



X AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

intended to carry out the same design. Like the earli( 
portions of the work, it aspires to a higher charact( 
than that of a piece of mere amusement. It claims to t 
useful, in acquainting its readers with the subjects ( 
the productions of the great poets of Italy. Son 
knowledge of these is expected of every well-educate 
young person. 
>-- in reading these romances, we cannot fail to obsen 
C^how the primitive inventions have been used, again ar 
again, by successive generations of fabulists. The Sin 
of Ulysses is the prototype of the Siren of Orlando, ar 
the character of Circe reappears in Alcina. The foui 
tains of Love and Hatred may be traced to the story ( 
Cupid and Psyche; and similar effects produced by 
magic draught appear in the tale of Tristram and Isoud 
and, substituting a flower for the draught, in Shakspeare 
"Midsummer Night's Dream." There are many oth 
instances of the same kind which the reader will re 
ognize without our assistance. 

The sources whence we derive these stories are, fir; 
the Italian poets named above; next, the "Romans < 
Chevalerie" of the Comte de Tressan; lastly, certa 
German collections of popular tales. Some chapte 
have been borrowed from Leigh Hunt's Translatio 
from the Italian Poets. It seemed unnecessary to ( 
over again what he had already done so well ; yet, ( 
the other hand, those stories could not be omitted fro 
the series without leaving it incomplete. 

Thomas Bulfinch. 



F 



CONTENTS 



Xlll 



CHAPTER 

XXXVIII. 

XXXIX. 
XL. 



XLI. 



PAGE 



Northern Mythology Valhalla The 
Valkyrior 328 

Thor's Visit to Jotunheim 3.37 

The Death of Baldur The Elves 
Runic Letters Skalds Iceland 
Teutonic Mythology The Nibelun- 
gen Lied Wagner's Nibelungen Ring 343 

The Druids lona 358 



KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 



I. Introduction 367 

II. The Mythical History of England ... 378 

III. Merlin 389 

IV. Arthur 394 

V. Arthur (Continued) 405 

VI. Sir Gawain 414 

VII. Caradoc Briefbras; or, Caradoc with the 

Shrunken Arm 418 

VIII. Launcelot of the Lake 424 

IX. The Adventure of the Cart 435 

X. The Lady of Shalott 44i 

XL Queen Guenever's Peril 445 

XII. Tristram and Isoude 449 

XIII. Tristram and Isoude (Continued) . . . 457 

XIV. Sir Tristram's Battle with Sir Launcelot. 464 
XV. The Round Table 467 

XVI. Sir Palamedes 472 

XVII. Sir Tristram 475 

XVIII. Perceval 479 

XIX. The Sangreal, or Holy Graal .... 486 

XX. The Sangreal (Continued) 49^ 

XXI. The Sangreal (Continued) 497 

XXII. Sir Agrivain's Treason 507 

XXIII. Morte d'Arthur S'S 



xiv CONTENTS 

THE MABINOGEON 

CHAPTER PAGE 

Introductory Note 527 

I. The Britons 529 

II. The Lady of the Fountain ....... 534 

III. The Lady of the Fountain (Continued) . . . 539 

IV. The Lady of the Fountain (Continued) . . . 546 
V. Geraint, the Son of Erbin 553 

VI. Geraint, the Son of Erbin (Continued) . . . 564 

VII. Geraint, the Son of Erbin (Continued) . . . 572 

VIII. Pwyll, Prince of Dyved 583 

IX. Branwen, the Daughter of Llyr 589 

X. Manawyddan 597 

XI. 'Kilwich and Olwen 608 

XII. Kilwich and Olwen (Continued) . . . . . 620 

XIII. Taliesin 626 



HERO MYTHS OF THE BRITISH RACE 

Beowulf 635 

Cuchulain, Champion of Ireland 637 

Hereward the Wake 641 

Robin Hood 643 



LEGENDS OF CHARLEMAGNE 

Introduction /. . . 647 

The Peers, or Paladins 656 

The Tournament 664 

The Siege of Albracca 672 

Adventures of Rinaldo and Orlando 683 

The Invasion of France 693 

The Invasion of France (Continued) 702 



CONTENTS XV 

PAGE 

Bradamante and Rogero 712 

Astolpho and the Enchantress 721 

The Ore 'Ji2 

Astolpho's Adventures continued, and Isabella's begun . 739 

Medoro 745 

Orlando Mad 753 

Zerbino and Isabella 760 

Astolpho in Abyssinia 769 

The War in Africa "j-jj 

Rogero and Bradamante 78S 

The Battle of Roncesvalles 801 

Rinaldo and Bayard 814 

Death of Rinaldo 819 

Huon of Bordeaux 825 

Huon of Bordeaux (Continued) 832 

Huon of Bordeaux (Continued) 842 

Ogier, the Dane 848 

Ogier, the Dane (Continued) 856 

Ogier, the Dane (Continued) 863 

Proverbial Expressions 873 

List of Illustrative Passages Quoted from the 

Poets 875 

Index and Dictionary 877 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

PAGE 

The Archery Contest 625 

Charlemagne 656 

Charlemagne Receiving His Guests 657 



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STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

The religions of ancient Greece and Rome are ex- 
tinct. The so-called divinities of Olympus have not a 
single worshipper among living men. They belong now 
not to the department of theology, but to those of liter- 
ature and taste. There they still hold their place, and 
will continue to hold it, for they are too closely con- 
nected with the finest productions of poetry and art, 
both ancient and modern, to pass into oblivion. 

We propose to tell the stories relating to them which 
have come down to us from the ancients, and which are 
alluded to by modern poets, essayists, and orators. Our 
readers may thus at the same time be entertained by 
the most charming fictions which fancy has ever created, 
and put in possession of information indispensable to 
every one who would read with intelligence the elegant 
literature of his own day. 

In order to understand these stories, it will be neces- 
sary to acquaint ourselves with the ideas of the structure 
of the universe which prevailed among the Greeks 
the people from whom the Romans, and other nations 
through them, received their science and religion. 

The Greeks believed the earth to be flat and cir- 
cular, their own country occupying the middle of it, the 
central point being either Mount Olympus, the abode 
of the gods, or Delphi, so famous for its oracle. 

The circular disk of the earth was crossed from west 
to east and divided into two equal parts by the Sea, 
as they called the Mediterranean, and its continuation 

1 



2 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

the Euxine, the only seas with which they were ac- 
quainted. 

Around the earth flowed the River Ocean, its course 
being from south to north on the western side of the 
earth, and in a contrary direction on the eastern side. 
It flowed in a steady, equable current, unvexed by storm 
or tempest. The sea, and all the rivers on earth, re- 
ceived their waters from it. 

The northern portion of the earth was supposed to 
be inhabited by a happy race named the Hyperboreans, 
dwelling in everlasting bliss and spring beyond the lofty 
mountains whose caverns were supposed to send forth 
the piercing blasts of the north wind, which chilled the 
people of Hellas (Greece). Their country was inac- 
cessible by land or sea. They lived exempt from dis- 
ease or old age, from toils and warfare. Moore has 
given us the "Song of a Hyperborean," beginning 

"I come from a land in the sun-bright deep, 

Where golden gardens glow, 
Where the winds of the north, becalmed in sleep, 
Their conch shells never blow." 

On the south side of the earth, close to the stream 
of Ocean, dwelt a people happy and virtuous as the 
Hyperboreans. They were named the yEthiopians. The 
gods favored them so highly that they were wont to 
leave at times their Olympian abodes and go to share 
their sacrifices and banquets. 

On the western margin of the earth, by the stream of 
Ocean, lay a happy place named the Elysian Plain, 
whither mortals favored by the gods were transported 
without tasting of death, to enjoy an immortality of 
bliss. This happy region was also called th^ "Fortunate 
Fields," and the "Isles of the Blessed." 

We thus see that the Greeks of the early ages knew 
little of any real people except those to the east and 
south of their own country, or near the coast of the 
Mediterranean. Their imagination meantime peopled 
the western portion of this sea with giants, monsters, 
and enchantresses ; while they placed around the disk 
of the earth, which they probably regarded as of no 



INTRODUCTION (^ 



great width, nations enjoying the peculiar favor of the 
gods, and blessed with happiness and longevity. 

The Dawn, the Sun, and the Moon were supposed 
to rise out of the Ocean, on the eastern side, and to 
drive through the air, giving light to gods and men. 
The stars, also, except those forming the Wain or Bear, 
and others near them, rose out of and sank into the 
stream of Ocean. There the sun-god embarked in a 
winged boat, which conveyed him round by the north- 
ern part of the earth, back to his place of rising in the 
east. Milton alludes to this in his "Comus" : 

"Now the gilded car of day 
His golden axle doth allay 
In the steep Atlantic stream, 
And the slope Sun his upward beam 
Shoots against the dusky pole. 
Pacing towards the other goal 
Of his chamber in the east." 

The abode of the gods was on the summit of Mount 
Olympus, in Thessaly. A gate of clouds, kept by the 
goddesses named the Seasons, opened to permit the pas- 
sage of the Celestials to earth, and to receive them on 
their return. The gods had their separate dwellings ; but 
all, when summoned, repaired to the palace of Jupiter, 
as did also those deities whose usual abode was the 
earth, the waters, or the underworld. It was also in 
the great hall of the palace of the Olympian king that 
the gods feasted each day on ambrosia and nectar, their 
food and drink, the latter being handed round by the 
lovely goddess Hebe. Here they conversed of the af-' 
fairs of heaven and earth ; and as they quaffed their 
nectar, Apollo, the god of music, delighted them with the 
tones of his lyre, to which the Muses sang in responsive 
strains. When the sun was set, the gods retired to sleep 
in their respective dwellings. 

The following lines from the "Odyssey" will show 
how Homer conceived of Olympus : 

"So saying, Minerva, goddess azure-eyed, 
Rose to Olympus, the reputed seat 
Eternal of the gods, which never storms 



4 .STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Disturb, rains drench, or snow invades, but calm 
The expanse and cloudless shines with purest day. 
There the inhabitants divine rejoice 
Forever." Cowper. 

The robes and other parts of the dress of the god- 
desses were woven by Minerva and the Graces and 
everything of a more solid nature was formed of the 
various metals. Vulcan was architect, smith, armorer, 
chariot builder, and artist of all work in Olympus. He 
built of brass the houses of the gods ; he made for them 
the golden shoes with which they trod the air or the 
water, and moved from place to place with the speed 
of the wind, or even of thought. He also shod with 
brass the celestial steeds, which whirled the chariots of 
the gods through the air, or along the surface of the 
sea. He was able to bestow on his workmanship self- 
motion, so that the tripods (chairs and tables) could 
move of themselves in and out of the celestial hall. He 
even endowed with intelligence the' golden handmaidens 
whom he made to wait on himself. 

Jupiter, or Jove (Zeus^), though called the father of 
gods and men, had himself a beginning. Saturn (Cro- 
nos) was his father, and Rhea (Ops) his mother. Sat- 
urn and Rhea were of the race of Titans, who were 
the children of Earth and Heaven, which sprang from 
Chaos, of which we shall give a further account in our 
next chapter. 

There is another cosmogony, or account of the crea- 
tion, according to which Earth, Erebus, and Love were 
the first of beings. Love (Eros) issued from the egg 
of Night, which floated on Chaos. By his arrows and 
torch he pierced and vivified all things, producing life 
and joy. / 

Saturn and Rhea were not the only Titans. There 
were others, whose names were Oceanus. Hyperion, 
Lipetus, and Ophion, males; and Themis, Mnemosyne, 
Eurynome, females. They are spoken of as the elder 
gods, whose dominion was afterwards transferred to 
others. Saturn yielded to Jupiter, Oceanus to Nep- 

^ The names included in parentheses are the Greek, the others being the 
Roman or Latin names. 



INTRODUCTION 



Q 



tune, Hyperion to Apollo. Hyperion was the father 
of the Sun, Moon, and Dawn. He is therefore the 
original sun-god, and is painted with the splendor and 
beauty which were afterwards bestowed on Apollo. 

"Hyperion's curls, the front of Jove himself." 

Shakspeare. 

Ophion and Eurynome ruled over Olympus till they 
were dethroned by Saturn and Rhea. Milton alludes 
to them in "Paradise Lost." He says the heathens seem 
to have had some knowledge of the temptation and fall 
of man. 

"And fabled how the serpent, whom they called 
Ophion, with Eurynome, (the wide- 
Encroaching Eve perhaps,) had first the rule 
Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driven." 

The representations given of Saturn are not very 
consistent; for on the one hand his reign is said to have 
been the golden age of innocence and purity, and on the 
other he is described as a monster who devoured his 
children.^ Jupiter, however, escaped this fate, and when 
grown up espoused Metis (Prudence), who adminis- 
tered a draught to Saturn which caused him to disgorge 
his children. Jupiter, with his brothers and sisters, now 
rebelled against their father Saturn and his brothers 
the Titans; vanquished them, and imprisoned some of 
them in Tartarus, inflicting other penalties on others. 
Atlas was condemned to bear up the heavens on his 
sh&ulders. 

On the dethronement of Saturn, Jupiter with his 
brothers Neptune (Poseidon) and Pluto (Dis) divided 
his dominions. Jupiter's portion was the heavens, Nep- 
tune's the ocean, and Pluto's the realms of the dead. 
Earth and Olympus were common property. Jupiter 
was king of gods and men. The thunder was his weap- 
on, and he bore a shield called ^gis, made for him by 

* This inconsistency arises from considering the Saturn of the Romans 
the same with the Grecian deity Cronos (Time), which, as it brings 
an end to all things which have had a beginning, may be said to devour 
its own offspring. 



6 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Vulcan. The eagle was his favorite bird, and bore his 
thunderbolts. 

Juno (Hera) was the wife of Jupiter, and queen of 
the gods. Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, was her 
attendant and messenger. The peacock was her favorite 
bird. 

Vulcan (Hephaestos), the celestial artist, was the son 
of Jupiter and Juno. He was born lame, and his 
mother was so displeased at the sight of him that she 
flung him out of heaven. Other accounts say that 
Jupiter kicked him out for taking part with his mother 
in a quarrel which occurred between them. Vulcan's 
lameness, according to this account, was the consequence 
of his fall. He was a whole day falling, and at last 
alighted in the island of Lemnos, which was thence- 
forth sacred to him. Milton alludes to this story in, 
"Paradise Lost," Book I.: 

"... From morn 
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve, 
A summer's day ; and with the setting sun 
Dropped from the zenith, like a falling star, 
On Lemnos, the ^gean isle." 

Mars (Ares), the god of war, was the son of 
Jupiter and Juno. 

Phoebus Apollo, the god of archery, prophecy, and 
music, was the son of Jupiter and Latona, and brother 
of Diana (Artemis). He was god of the sun, as Diana, 
his sister, was the goddess of the moon. 

Venus (Aphrodite), the goddess of love and beauty, 
was the daughter of Jupiter and Dione. Others say 
that Venus sprang from the foam of the sea. The zephyr 
wafted her along the waves to the Isle of Cyprus, where 
she was received and attired by the Seasons, and then 
led to the assembly of the gods. All were charmed 
with her beauty, and each one demanded her for his 
wife. Jupiter gave her to Vulcan, in gratitude for the 
service he had rendered in forging thunderbolts. So 
the most beautiful of the goddesses became the wife of 
the most ill-favored of gods. Venus possessed an em- 
broidered girdle called Cestus, which had the power of 



INTRODUCTION 7 

inspiring love. Her favorite birds were swans and 
doves, and the plants sacred to her were the rose and 
the myrtle. 

Cupid (Eros), the god of love, was the son of Venus. 
He was her constant companion ; and, armed with bow 
and arrows, he shot the darts of desire into the bosoms 
of both gods and men. There was a deity named An- 
teros, who was sometimes represented as the avenger 
of slighted love, and sometimes as the symbol of re- 
ciprocal affection. The following legend is told of him: 
Venus, complaining to Themis that her son Eros con- 
tinued always a child, was told by her that it was be- 
cause he was solitary, and that if he had a brother he 
would grow apace. Anteros was soon afterwards born, 
and Eros immediately was seen to increase rapidly in 
size and strength. 

Minerva (Pallas, Athene), the goddess of wisdom, 
was the offspring of Jupiter, without a mother. She 
sprang forth from his head completely armed. Her 
favorite bird was the owl, and the plant sacred to her 
the olive. 

Byron, in "Childe Harold," alludes to the birth of 
Minerva thus : 

"Can tyrants but by tyrants conquered be, 
And Freedom find no champion and no child, 
Such as Columbia saw* arise, when she 
Sprang forth a Pailas, armed and undefiled? 
Or must such minds be nourished in the wild, 
Deep in the unpruned forest, 'midst the roar 
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled 
On infant Washington? Has earth no more 
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?" 

Mercury (Hermes) was the son of Jupiter and Maia. 
He presided over commerce, wrestling, and other gym- 
nastic exercises, even over thieving, and /everything, in 
short, which required skill and dexterity. He was the 
messenger of Jupiter, and wore a winged cap and winged 
shoes. He bore in his hand a rod entwined with two 
serpents, called the caduceus. 

Mercury is said to have invented the lyre. He 
found, one day, a tortoise, of which he took the shell, 



8 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

made holes in the opposite edges of it, and drew cords 
of linen through them, and the instrument was com- 
plete. The cords were nine, in honor of the nine Muses. 
Mercury gave the lyre to Apollo, and received from 
him in exchange the caduceus.^ 

Ceres (Demeter) was the daughter of Saturn and 
Rhea. She had a daughter named Proserpine (Per- 
sephone), who became the wife of Pluto, and queen 
of the realms of the dead. Ceres presided over agri- 
culture. 

Bacchus (Dionysus), the god of wine, was the son 
of Jupiter and Semele. He represents not only the in- 
toxicating power of wine, but its social and beneficent 
influences likewise, so that he is viewed as the pro- 
moter of civilization, and a lawgiver and lover of peace. 

The Muses were the daughters of Jupiter and Mne- 
mosyne (Memory). They presided over song, and 
prompted the memory. They were nine in number, 
to each of whom was assigned the presidence over 
some particular department of literature, art, or science. 
Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, Clio of history, 
Euterpe of lyric poetry, Melpomene of tragedy, Terp- 
sichore of choral dance and song, Erato of love poetry, 
Polyhymnia of sacred poetry, Urania of astronomy, 
Thalia of comedy. 

The Graces were goddesses presiding over the ban- 
quet, the dance, and all social enjoyments and elegant 
arts. They were three in number. Their names were 
Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia. 

Spenser describes the office of the Graces thus : 

"These three on men all gracious gifts bestow 
Which deck the body or adorn the mind/ 
To make them lovely or well-favored show; 
As comely carriage, entertainment kind, 
Sweet semblance, friendly offices that bind, 
And all the complements of courtesy; 

^ From this origin of the instrument, the word "shell" is often used as 
synonymous with "lyre," and figuratively for music and poetry. Thus 
Gray, in his ode on the "Progress of Poesy," says: 

"O Sovereign of the willing Soul, 
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs, 
Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares 
And frantic Passions hear thy soft control." 




HERMES. 
Museum at Olympus. Discovered May 8, 1S77. 



INTRODUCTION 9 

They teach us how to each degree and kind 
We should ourselves demean, to low, to high, 
To friends, to foes ; which skill men call Civility." 

The Fates were also three Clotho, Lachesis, and 
Atropos. Their office was to spin the thread of human 
destiny, and they were armed with shears, with which 
they cut it off when they pleased. They were the 
daughters of Themis (Law), who sits by Jove on his 
throne to give him counsel. 

The Erinnyes, or Furies, were three goddesses who 
punished by their secret stings the crimes of those who 
escaped or defied public justice. The heads of the 
Furies were wreathed with serpents, and their whole 
appearance was terrific and appalling. Their names 
were Alecto, Tisiphone, and Megsera. They were also 
called Eumenides. 

Nemesis was also an avenging goddess. She repre- 
sents the righteous anger of the gods, particularly 
towards the proud and insolent. 

Pan was the god of flocks and shepherds. His fa- 
vorite residence was in Arcadia. 

The Satyrs were deities of the woods and fields. 
They were conceived to be covered with bristly hair, 
their heads decorated with short, sprouting horns, and 
their feet like goats' feet. 

Momus was the god of laughter, and Plutus the god 
of wealth. 

ROMAN DIVINITIES 

The preceding are Grecian divinities, though received 
also by the Romans. Those which follow are peculiar 
to Roman mythology : 

Saturn was an ancient Italian deity. It was at- 
tempted to identify him with the Grecian god Cronos, 
and fabled that after his dethronement by Jupiter he 
fled to Italy, where he reigned during what was called 
the Golden Age. In memory of his beneficent do- 
minion, the feast of Saturnalia was held every year in 
the winter season. Then all public business was sus- 
pended, declarations of war and criminal executions 



10 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

were postponed, friends made presents to one another^ 
and the slaves were indulged with great liberties. A 
feast was given them at which they sat at table, while 
their masters served them, to show the natural equality 
of men, and that all things belonged equally to all, in 
the reign of Saturn. 

Faunus,^ the grandson of Saturn, was worshipped as 
the god of fields and shepherds, and also as a pro- 
phetic god. His name in the plural, Fauns, expressed 
a class of gamesome deities, like the Satyrs of the 
Greeks. 

Quirinus was a war god, said to be no other than 
Romulus, the founder of Rome, exalted after his death 
to a place among the gods. 

Bellona, a war goddess. 

Terminus, the god of landmarks. His statue was a 
rude stone or post, set in the ground to miark the boun- 
daries of fields. 

Pales, the goddess presiding over cattle and pas- 
tures. 

Pomona presided over fruit trees. 

Flora, the goddess of flowers. 

Lucina, the goddess of childbirth. 

Vesta (the Hestia of the Greeks) was a deity pre- 
siding over the public and private hearth. A sacred 
fire, tended by six virgin priestesses called Vestals, 
flamed in her temple. As the safety of the city was 
held to be connected with its conservation, the neglect 
of the virgins, if they let it go out, was severely pun- 
ished, and the fire was rekindled from the rays of the 
sun. 

Liber is the Latin name of Bacchus; and Mulciber 
of Vulcan. / 

Janus was the porter of heaven. He opens the year, 
the first month being named after him. He is the 
guardian deity of gates, on which account he is com- 
monly represented with two heads, because ever}.' door 
looks two ways. His temples at Rome were numer- 
ous. In war time the gates of the principal one were 
always open. In peace they were closed; but they 

* There was also a goddess called Fauna, or Bona Dea. 




APOLLO AND DAPHNE 

"Thy godlike crime was to be kind; 

To render with thy precepts less 

The sum of human wretchedness, 
And strengthen man with his own mind. 

And, baffled as thou wert from high, 

Still, in thy patient energy 
In the endurance and repulse 

Of thine impenetrable spirit, 
Which earth and heaven could not convulse, 

A mighty lesson we inherit." 

Byron also employs the same allusion, in his "Ode 
to Napoleon Bonaparte" : 

"Or, like the thief of fire from heaven. 
Wilt thou withstand the shock? 
And share with him the un forgiven 
His vulture and his rock?" 



CHAPTER ni 

APOLLO AND DAPHNE PYRAMUS AND THISBE 

CEPHALUS AND PROCRIS 

The slime with which the earth was covered by the 
'aters of the flood produced an excessive fertility, 
;hich called forth every variety of production,' both bad 
id good. Among the rest. Python, an enormous ser- 
pt, crept forth, the terror of the people, and lurked 
j^the caves of Mount Parnassus. Apollo slew him 
fina^ his arrows weapons which he had not before 
Pgjtd against any but feeble animals, hares, wild goats, O' ^ 
^^^i such game. In commemoration of this illustrious ^/'^__^ 
j^,iquest he instituted the Pythian games, in which the// c-' 

yjp'tor in feats of strength, swiftness of foot, or in the 
^j^ariot race was crowned with a wreath of beech 
4ves; for the laurel was not yet adopted by Apollo 
,s his own tree. 

.- The famous statue of Apollo called the Belvedere 
represents the ^od after this victory over the serpent 
Pvthon. To this Byron alludes in his "Childe Harold," 
IV., 161 : 



20 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

"... The lord of the unerring bow, 
The god of Hfe, and poetry, and light. 
The Sun, in human limbs arrayed, and brow- 
All radiant from his triumph in the fight. 
The shaft has just been shot; the arrow bright 
With an immortal's vengeance ; in his eye 
And nostril, beautiful disdain, and might 
And majesty flash their full lightnings by, 
Developing in that one glance the Deity." 



APOLLO AND DAPHNE 

Daphne was Apollo's first love. It was not brought 
about by accident, but by the malice of Cupid. Apollo 
saw the boy playing with his bow and arrows ; and 
being himself elated with his recent victory oyer Python, 
he said to him, "What have you to do with warlike 
weapons, saucy boy? Leave them for hands worthy 
of them. Behold the conquest I have won by means 
of them over the vast serpent who stretched his 
poisonous body over acres of the plain ! Be content 
with your torch, child, and kindle up your flames, as 
you call them, where you will, but presume not to 
meddle with my weapons." Venus's boy heard these 
words, and rejoined, "Your arrows may strike all things 
else, Apollo, but mine shall strike you." So saying, 
he took his stand on a rock of Parnassus, and drew 
from his quiver two arrows of different workmanship, 
one to excite love, the other to repel it. The former 
was of gold and sharp pointed, the latter blunt and 
tipped with lead. With the leaden shaft he struck the 
nymph Daphne, the daughter of the river god Peneus, 
and with the golden one Apollo, through the heart. 
Forthwith the god was seized with love for the maiden, 
and she abhorred the thought of loving. Her delight 
was in woodland sports and in the spoils of the chase. 
Many lovers sought her, but she spurned them all, 
ranging the woods, and taking no thought of Cupid nor 
of Hymen. Her father often said to her, "Daughter, 
you owe me a son-in-law ; you owe me grandchildren." 
She, hating the thought of marriage as a crime, with 
her beautiful face tinged all over with blushes, threw 
her arms around her father's neck, and said, "Dearest 



APOLLO AND DAPHNE 21 

father, grant me this favor, that I may always remain 
unmarried, Hke Diana." He consented, but at the same 
time said, "Your own face will forbid it." 

Apollo loved her, and longed to obtain her; and he 
who gives oracles to all the world was not wise enough 
to look into his own fortunes. He saw her hair 
flung loose over her shoulders, and said, "H so charm- 
ing in disorder, what would it be if arranged?" He 
saw her eyes bright as stars ; he saw her lips, and 
was not satisfied with only seeing them. He admired 
her hands and arms, naked to the shoulder, and what- 
ever was hidden from view he imagined more beau- 
tiful still. He followed her; she fled, swifter than 
the wind, and delayed not a moment at his entreaties. 
"Stay," said he, "daughter of Peneus; I am not a foe. 
Do not fly me as a lamb flies the wolf, or a dove 
the hawk. It is for love I pursue you. You make 
me miserable, for fear you should fall and hurt your- 
self on these stones, and I should be the cause. Pray 
run slower, and I will follow slower. I am no clown, 
no rude peasant. Jupiter is my father, and I am lord 
of Delphos and Tenedos, and know all things, present 
and future. I am the god of song and the lyre. My 
arrows fly true to the mark ; but, alas ! an arrow more 
fatal than mine has pierced my heart ! I am the god 
of medicine, and know the virtues of all healing plants. 
Alas ! I suffer a malady that no balm can cure ! 

The nymph continued her flight, and left his plea 
half uttered. And even as she fled she charmed him. 
The wind blew her garments, and her unbound hair 
streamed loose behind her. The god grew impatient 
to find his wooings thrown away, and, sped by Cupid, 
gained upon her in the race. It was like a hound 
pursuing a hare, with open jaws ready to seize, while 
the feebler animal darts forward, slipping from the very 
grasp. So flew the god and the virgin he on the wings 
of love, and she on those of fear. The pursuer is the 
more rapid, however, and gains upon her, and his pant- 
ing breath blows upon her hair. Her strength begins 
to fail, and, ready to sink, she calls upon her father, 
the river god : "Help me, Peneus ! open the earth to en- 




STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

close me, or change my form, which has brought me 
into this danger!" Scarcely had she spoken, when a 
stiffness seized all her limbs; her bosom began to be 
enclosed in a tender bark ; her hair became leaves ; her 
arms became branches ; her foot stuck fast in the 
ground, as a root ; her facs became a tree-top, retain- 
ing nothing of its former self but its beauty. Apollo 
stood amazed. He touched the stem, and felt the flesh 
tremble under the new bark. He embraced the branches, 
and lavished kisses on the wood. The branches shrank 
from his lips. "Since you cannot be my wife," said 
he, "you shall assuredly be my tree. I will wear you 
for my crown ; I will decorate with you my harp and 
my quiver; and when the great Roman conquerors 
lead up the triumphal pomp to the Capitol, you shall 
be woven into wreaths for their brows. And, as eternal 
youth is mine, you also shall be always green, and your 
leaf know no decay." The nymph, now changed into a 
Laurel tree, bowed its head in grateful acknowledg- 
ment. 

That Apollo should be the god both of music and 
poetry will not appear strange, but that medicine should 
also be assigned to his province, may. The poet Arm- 
strong, himself a physician, thus accounts for it: 

"Music exalts each joy, allays each grief, 
Expels diseases, softens every pain; 
And hence the wise of ancient days adored 
One power of physic, melody, and song." 

The story of Apollo and Daphne is often alluded to 
by the poets. Waller applies it to th^ case of one 
whose amatory verses, though they did not soften the 
heart of his mistress, yet won for the poet wide-spread 
fame: 

"Yet what he sung in his immortal strain. 
Though unsuccessful, was not sung in va:n. 
All but the nymph that should redress his wrong, 
Attend his passion and approve hit song. 
Like Phoebus thus, acquiring unsought praise. 
He caught at love and filled his arms with bays." 



PYRAMUS AND THISBE 

The following stanza from Shelley's "Adonais" al- 
ludes to Byron's early quarrel with the reviewers : 

"The herded wolves, bold only to pursue ; 
The obscene ravens, clamorous o'er the dead; 
The vultures, to the conqueror's banner true, 
Who feed where Desolation first has fed, 
And whose wings rain contagion : how they fled, 
When like Apollo, from his golden bow. 
The Pythian of the age one arrow sped 
And smiled! The spoilers tempt no second blow; 
They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them as they go." 

PYRAMUS AND THISBE 

Pyramus was the handsomest youth, and Thisbe the 
fairest maiden, in all Babylonia, where Semiramis 
reigned. Their parents occupied adjoining houses; and 
neighborhood brought the young people together, and 
acquaintance ripened into love. They would gladly 
have married, but their parents forbade. One thing, 
however, they could not forbid that love should glow 
with equal ardor in the bosoms of both. They con- 
versed by signs and glances, and the fire burned more 
intensely for being covered up. In the wall that parted 
the two houses there was a crack, caused by some fault 
in the structure. No one had remarked it before, but 
the lovers discovered it. W'hat will not love discover! 
wish^orded a passage to the voice; and tender mes- 
buri( used to pass backward and forward through the 
forth As they stood, Pyramus on this side, Thisbe on 
heir breaths would mingle. "Cruel wall," they 
^ 'why do you keep two lovers apart? But we 
Safei f be ungrateful. We owe you, we confess, tiic 
Thisl ^ of transmitting loving words to willing ears." 
rds they uttered on different sides of the wall ; 
1 night came and they must say farewell, they 
heir lips upon the wall, she on her side, he 
they cotild come no nearer, 
orning, when Aurora had put out the stars, 
n had metted the frost from the grass, they 
accustomed spot. Then, after lamenting 
'ate, they agreed that next night, when all 



24 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

was still, they would slip away from watchful eyes, 
leave their dwellings and walk out into the fields; and 
to insure a meeting, repair to a well-known edifice 
standing without the city's bounds, called the Tomb of 
Ninus, and that the one who came first should await 
the other at the foot of a certain tree. It was a white 
mulberry tree, and stood near a cool spring. All was 
agreed on, and they waited impatiently for the sun to 
go down beneath the waters and night to rise up from 
them. Then cautiously Thisbe stole forth, unobserved 
by the family, her head covered with a veil, made her 
way to the monument and sat down under the tree. 
As she sat alone in the dim light of the evening she 
descried a lioness, her jaws reeking with recent slaugh- 
ter, approaching the fountain to slake her thirst. Thisbe 
fled at the sight, and sought refuge in the hollow of 
a rock. As she fled she dropped her veil. The lioness 
after drinking at the spring turned to retreat to the 
woods, and seeing the veil on the ground, tossed and 
rent it with her bloody mouth. 

Pyramus, having been delayed, now approached the 
place of meeting. He saw in the sand the footsteps 
of the lion, and the color fled from his cheeks at the 
sight. Presently he found the veil all rent and bloody. 
"O hapless girl," said he, 'T have been the cause of 
thy death ! Thou, more worthy of life than I, hast 
fallen the first victim. I will follow. I am the guilty 
cause, in tempting thee forth to a place of such peril, 
and not being myself on the spot to guard thee. Come 
forth, ye lions, from the rocks, and tear this guilty body 
with your teeth." He took up the veil, carried it with 
him to the appointed tree, and cover^ it with kisses 
and with tears. "My blood also shall stain your tex- 
ture," said he, and drawing his sword plunged it into 
his heart. The blood spurted from the wound, and 
tinged the white mulberries of the tree all red ; and 
sinking into the earth reached the roots, so that the 
red color mounted through the trunk to the fruit. 

By this time Thisbe, still trembling with fear, yet 
wishing not to disappoint her lover, stepped cautiously 
forth, looking anxiously for the youth, eager to tell him 



PYRAMUS AND THISBE 25 

the danger she had escaped. When she came to the 
spot and saw the changed color of the mulberries she 
doubted whether it was the same place. While " she 
hesitated she saw the form of one struggling in the 
agonies of death. She started back, a shudder ran 
through her frame as a ripple on the face of the still 
water when a sudden breeze sweeps over it. But as 
soon as she recognized her lover, she screamed and 
beat her breast, embracing the lifeless body, pouring 
tears into its wounds, and imprinting kisses on the cold 
lips. "O Pyramus," she cried, "what has done this? 
Answer me, Pyramus ; it is your own Thisbe that speaks. 
Hear me, dearest, and lift that drooping head !" At 
the name of Thisbe Pyramus opened his eyes, then 
closed them again. She saw her veil stained with blood 
and the scabbard empty of its sword. "Thy own hand 
has slain thee, and for my sake," she said. "I too can 
be brave for once, and my love is as strong as thine. 
I will follow thee in death, for I have been the cause; 
and death which alone could part us shall not prevent 
my joining thee. And ye, unhappy parents of us both, 
deny us not our united request. As love and death have 
joined us, let one tomb contain us. And thou, tree, 
retain the marks of slaughter. Let thy berries still serve 
for memorials of our blood." So saying she plunged 
the sword into her breast. Her parents ratified her 
wish, the gods also ratified it. The two bodies were 
buried in one sepulchre, and the tree ever after brought 
forth purple berries, as it does to this day. 

Moore, in the ."Sylph's Ball," speaking of Davy's 
Safety Lamp, is reminded of the wall that separated 
Thisbe and her lover : 

"O for that Lamp's metallic gauze, 
That curtain of protectir. i wire, 
Which Davy delicately draws 
Around illicit, dangerous fire! 

The wall he sets 'twixt Flame and Air, 

(Like that which barred young Thisbe's bliss,) 

Through whose small holes this dangerous pair 
May see each other, but not kiss.'" 



26 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

In Mickle's translation of the "Lusiad" occurs the 
following allusion to the story of Pyramus and Thisbe, 
and the metamorphosis of the mulberries. The poet is 
describing the Island of Love: 

". . . here each gift Pomona's hand bestows 
In cultured garden, free uncultured flows, 
The flavor sweeter and the hue more fair 
Than e'er was fostered by the hand of care. 
The cherry here in shining crimson glows, 
And stained with lovers' blood, in pendent rows, 
The mulberries o'erload the bending boughs." 

If any of our young readers can be so hard-hearted 
as to enjoy a laugh at the expense of poor Pyramus 
and Thisbe, they may find an opportunity by turning 
to Shakspeare's play of the "Midsummer Night's 
Dream," where it is most amusingly burlesqued. 

CEPHALUS AND PROCRIS 

Cephalus was a beautiful youth and fond of manly 
sports. He would rise before the dawn to pursue the 
chase. Aurora saw him when she first looked forth, 
fell in love with him, and stole him away. But Cephalus 
was just married to a charming wife whom he devotedly 
loved. Her name was Procris. She was a favorite 
of Dia.ia, the goddess of hunting, who had given her 
a dog which could outrun every rival, and a javelin 
which would never fail of its mark ; and Procris gave 
these presents to her husband. Cephalus was so happy 
in his wife that he resisted all the entreaties of Aurora, 
and she finally dismissed him in displeasure, saying, 
"Go, ungrateful mortal, keep your wife/ whom, if I am 
not much mistaken, you will one day be very sorry you 
ever saw again." 

Cephalus returned, and was as happy as ever in his 
wife and his woodland sports. Now it happened some 
angry deity had sent a ravenous fox to annoy the coun- 
try; and the hunters turned out in great strength to 
capture it. Their efforts were all in vain; no dog could 
run it down ; and at last they came to Cephalus to bor- 
row his famous dog, whose name was Lelaps. No 



CEPHALUS AND PROCRIS 27 

sooner was the dog let loose than he darted off, quicker 
th^n their eye could follow him. If they had not seen 
his footprints in the sand they would have thought he 
flew. Cephalus and others stood on a hill and saw the 
race. The fox tried every art; he ran in a circle and 
turned on his track, the dog close upon him, with open 
jaws, snapping at his heels, but biting only the air. 
Cephalus was about to use his javelin, when suddenly he 
saw both dog and game stop instantly. The heavenly 
powers who had given both were not willing that either 
should conquer. In the very attitude of life and action 
they were turned into stone. So lifelike and natural did 
they look, you would have thought, as you looked at 
them, that one was going to bark, the other to leap for- 
ward. 

Cephalus, though he had lost his dog, still contin- 
ued to take delight in the chase. He would go out a^ 
early morning, ranging the woods and hills unaccom- 
panied by any one. needing no help, for his javelin was a 
sure weapon in all cases. Fatigued with hunting, when 
the sun got high he would seek a shady nook where a 
cool stream flowed, and, stretched on the grass, with his 
garments thrown aside, would enjoy the breeze. Some- 
times he would say aloud, "Come, sweet breeze, come 
and fan my breast, come and allay the heat that burns 
me." Some one passing by one day heard him talking in 
this way to the air. and, foolishly believing that he was 
talking to some maiden, went and told the secret to 
Procris, Cephalus's wife. Love is credulous. Procris, 
at the sudden shock, fainted away. Presently re- 
covering, she said. "It cannot be true ; I will not be- 
lieve it unless I myself am a witness to it." So she 
waited, with anxious heart, till the next morning, when 
Cephalus went to hunt as usual. Then she stole out 
after him. and concealed herself in the place where the 
informer directed her. Cephalus came as he was wont 
when tired with sport, and stretched himself on the 
green bank, saying. "Come, sweet breeze, come and 
fan me ; you know how I love you ! you make the groves 
and my solitary rambles delightful." He was running 
on in this way when he heard, or thought he heard, a 



28 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

sound as of a sob in the bushes. Supposing it some 
wild animal, he threw his javelin at the spot. A cry 
from his beloved Procris told him that the weapon had 
too surely met its mark. He rushed to the place, and 
found her bleeding, and with sinking strength endeav- 
oring to draw forth from the wound the javelin, her 
own gift. Cephalus raised her from the earth, strove 
to stanch the blood, and called her to revive and not to 
leave him miserable, to reproach himself with her death. 
She opened her feeble eyes, and forced herself to utter 
these few words : "I implore you, if you have ever loved 
me, if I have ever deserved kindness at your hands, my 
husband, grant me this last request ; do not marry that 
odious Breeze !" This disclosed the whole mystery : but 
alas! what advantage to disclose it now! She died; but 
her face wore a calm expression, and she looked pity- 
ingly and forgivingly on her husband when he made her 
understand the truth. 

Moore, in his "Legendary Ballads," has one on 
Cephalus and Procris, beginning thus : 

"A hunter once in a grove reclined. 

To shun the noon's bright eye, 
And oft he wooed the wandering wind 

To cool his brow with its sigh. 
While mute lay even the wild bee's hum, 

Nor breath could stir the aspen's hair. 
His song was still, 'Sweet Air, O come !' 

While Echo answered, 'Come, sweet Air !' " 



CHAPTER IV / 

JUNO AND HER RIVALS, 10 AND CALLISTO DIANA AND 

ACTION LATONA AND THE RUSTICS 

Juno one day perceived it suddenly grow dark, and 
immediately suspected that her husband had raised a 
cloud to hide some of his doings that would not bear 
the light. She brushed away the cloud, and saw her 
husband on the banks of a glassy river, with a beautiful 



JUNO AND HER RIVALS 29 

heifer standing near him. Juno suspected the heifer's 
form concealed some fair nymph of mortal mould as 
was, indeed the case ; for it was lo, the daughter of 
the river god Inachus, whom Jupiter had been flirting 
with, and, when he became aware of the approach of his 
wife, had changed into that form. 

Juno joined her husband, and noticing the heifer 
praised its beauty, and asked whose it was, and of what 
herd. Jupiter, to stop questions, replied that it was a 
fresh creation from the earth. Juno asked to have it as 
a gift. What could Jupiter do? He was loath to give 
his mistress to his wife ; yet how refuse so trifling 
a present as a simple heifer? He could not, without 
exciting suspicion; so he consented. The goddess was 
not yet relieved of her suspicions ; so she delivered the 
heifer to Argus, to be strictly watched. 

Now Argus had a hundred eyes in his head, and never 
went to sleep with more than two at a time, so that he 
kept watch of lo constantly. He suffered her to feed 
through the day, and at night tied her up with a vile^ 
rope round her neck. She would have stretched out her 
arms to implore freedom of Argus, but she had no arms 
to stretch out, and her voice was a bellow that fright- 
ened even herself. She saw her father and her sisters, 
went near them, and suffered them to pat her back, and 
heard them admire her beauty. Her father reached her 
a tuft of grass, and she licked the outstretched hand. 
She longed to make herself known to him, and would 
have uttered her wish ; but, alas ! words were wanting. 
At length she bethought herself of writing, and inscribed 
her name it was a short one with her hoof on the 
sand. Inachus recognized it, and discovering that his 
daughter, whom he had long sought in vain, was hidden 
under this disguise, mourned over her, and, embracing 
her white neck, exclaimed, "Alas ! my daughter, it would 
have been a less grief to have lost you altogether !" 
While he thus lamented, Argus, observing, came and 
drove her away, and took his seat on a higli bank, from 
whence he could see all around in every direction. 

Jupiter was troubled at beholding the sufferings of his 
mistress, and calling Mercury told him to go and despatch 



30 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Argus. Mercury made haste, put his winged slippers on 
his feet, and cap on his head, took his sleep-producing 
wand, and leaped down from the heavenly towers to the 
earth. There he laid aside his wings, and kept only his 
wand, with which he presented himself as a shepherd 
driving his flock. As he strolled on he blew upon his 
pipes. These were what are called the Syrinx or Pandean 
pipes. Argus listened with delight, for he had never seen 
the instrument before. "Young man," said he, "come 
and take a seat by me on this stone. There is no better 
place for your flocks to graze in than hereabouts, and 
here is a pleasant shade such as shepherds love." Mercury 
sat down, talked, and told stories till it grew late, and 
played upon his pipes his most soothing strains, hoping 
to lull the watchful eyes to sleep, but all in vain ; for 
Argus still contrived to keep some of his eyes open 
though he shut the rest. 

Among other stories. Mercury told him how the instru- 
ment on which he played was invented. "There was a 
certain nymph, whose name was Syrinx, who was much 
beloved by the satyrs and spirits of the wood; but she 
would have none of them, but was a faithful worshipper 
of Diana, and followed the chase. You would have 
thought it was Diana herself, had you seen her in her 
hunting dress, only that her bow was of horn and Diana's 
of silver. One day, as she was returning from the chase, 
Pan met her, told her just this, and added more of the 
same sort. She ran away, without stopping to hear his 
compliments, and he pursued till she came to the bank of 
the river, where he overtook her, and she had only time to 
call for help on her friends the water nymphs. They 
heard and consented. Pan threw his ar^ns around what 
he supposed to be the form of the nymph, and found he 
embraced only a tuft of reeds ! As he breathed a sigh, 
the air sounded through the reeds, and produced a plain- 
tive melody. The god, charmed with the novelty and with 
the sweetness of the music, said, 'Thus, then, at least, 
you shall be mine.' And he took some of the reeds, and 
placing them together, of unequal lengths, side by side, 
made an instrument which he called Syrinx, in honor of 
the nymph." Before Mercury had finished his story he 



CALLISTO 31 

saw Argus's eyes all asleep. xA.s his head nodded forward 
on his breast, Mercury with one stroke cut his neck 
through, and tumbled his head down the rocks. O hap- 
less Argus ! the light of your hundred eyes is quenched 
at once ! Juno took them and put them as ornaments 
on the tail of her peacock, where they remain to this day. 
But the vengeance of Juno was not yet satiated. She 
sent a gadfly to torment lo, who fled over the whole 
world from its pursuit. She swam through the Ionian 
sea, which derived its name from her, then roamed over 
the plains of Illyria, ascended Mount Haemus, and crossed 
the Thracian strait, thence named the Bosphorus (cow- 
ford), rambled on through Scythia, and the country of 
the Cimmerians, and arrived at last on the banks of the 
Nile. At length Jupiter interceded for her, and upon 
his promising not to pay her any more attentions Juno 
consented to restore her to her form. It was curious to 
see her gradually recover her former self. The coarse 
hairs fell from her body, her horns shrank up, her eyes 
grew narrower, her mouth shorter ; hands and fingers 
came instead of hoofs to her forefeet ; in fine there was 
nothing left of the heifer, except her beauty. At first she 
was afraid to speak, for fear she should low, but grad- 
ually she recovered her confidence and was restored to 
her father and sisters. 

In a poem dedicated to Leigh Hunt, by Keats, the fol- 
lowing allusion to the story of Pan and Syrinx occurs: 

"So did he feel who pulled the bough aside, 
That we might look into a forest wide, 

Telling us how fair trembling Syrinx fled 
Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread. 
Poor nymph poor Pan how he did weep to find 
Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind 
Along the reedy stream ; a half-heard strain. 
Full of sweet desolation, balmy pain." 

CALLISTO 

Callisto was another maiden who excited the jealousy 
of Juno, and the goddess changed her into a bear. "I 



32 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

will take away," said she, "that beauty with which you 
have captivated my husband." Down fell Callisto on her 
hands and knees ; she tried to stretch out her arms in 
supplication they were already beginning to be covered 
with black hair. Her hands grew rounded, became armed 
with crooked claws, and served for feet ; her mouth, 
which Jove used to praise for its beauty, became a horrid 
pair of jaws ; her voice, which if unchanged would have 
moved the heart to pity, became a growl, more fit to 
inspire terror. Yet her former disposition remained, 
and with continual groaning, she bemoaned her fate, and 
stood upright as well as she could, lifting up her paws 
to beg for mercy, and felt that Jove was unkind, though 
she could not tell him so. Ah, how often, afraid to stay 
in the woods all night alone, she wandered about the 
neighborhood of her former haunts ; how often, fright- 
ened by the dogs, did she, so lately a huntress, fly in 
terror from the hunters ! Often she fled from the wild 
beasts, forgetting that she was now a wild beast herself ; 
and, bear as she was, was afraid of the bears. 

One day a youth espied her as he was hunting. She 
saw him and recognized him as her own son, now grown 
a young man. She stopped and felt inclined to embrace 
him. As she was about to approach, he, alarmed, raised 
his hunting spear, and was on the point of transfixing 
her, when Jupiter, beholding, arrested the crime, and 
snatching away both of them, placed them in the heavens 
as the Great and Little Bear. 

Juno was in a rage to see her rival so set in honor, and 
hastened to ancient Tethys and Oceanus, the powers of 
ocean, and in answer to their inquiries thus told the cause 
of her 'coming: "Do you ask why I, the queen of the 
gods, have left the heavenly plains and sought your 
depths? Learn that I am supplanted in heaven my 
place is given to another. You will hardly believe me; 
but look when night darkens the world, and you shall see 
the two of whom I have so much reason to complain 
exalted to the heavens, in that part where the circle is the 
smallest, in the neighborhood of the pole. Why should 
any one hereafter tremble at the thought of offending 
Juno, when such rewards are the consequence of my dis- 



CALLISTO 33 

pleasure ? See what I have been able to effect ! I forbade 
her to wear the human form she is placed among the 
stars ! So do my punishments result such is the extent 
of my power ! Better that she should have resumed her 
former shape, as I permitted lo to do. Perhaps he means 
to marry her, and put me away ! But you, my foster- 
parents, if you feel for me, and see with displeasure this 
unworthy treatment of me, show it, I beseech you, by 
forbidding this guilty couple from coming into your 
waters." The powers of the ocean assented, and conse- 
quently the two constellations of the Great and Little 
Bear move round and round in heaven, but never sink, 
as the other stars do, beneath the ocean. 

Milton alludes to the fact that the constellation of the 
Bear never sets, when he says : 

"Let my lamp at midnight hour 
Be seen in some high lonely tower, 
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear," etc. 

And Prometheus, in J. R. Lowell's poem, says : 

"One after one the stars have risen and set, 
Sparkling upon the hoar frost of my chain; 
The Bear that prowled all night about the fold 
Of the North-star, hath shrunk into his den, 
Scared by the blithesome footsteps of the Dawn." 

The last star in the tail of the Little Bear is the Pole- 
star, called also the Cynosure. Milton says : 

"Straight mine eye hath caug:ht new pleasures 
While the landscape round it measures. 

Towers and battlements it sees 
Bosomed high in tufted trees, 
Where perhaps some beauty lies 
The Cynosure of neighboring eyes." 

The reference here is both to the Pole-star as the guide 
of mariners, and to the magnetic attraction of the North. 
He calls it also the "Star of Arcady," because Callisto's 



34 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

boy was named Areas, and they lived in Arcadia. In 
"Comus," the brother, benighted in the woods, says : 

". . . Some gentle taper ! 
Though a rush candle, from the wicker hole 
Of some clay habitation, visit us 
With thy long levelled rule of streaming light, 
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady, 
Or Tyrian Cynosure." 



DIANA AND ACTION 

Thus in two instances we have seen Juno's severity 
to her rivals ; now let us learn how a virgin goddess pun- 
ished an invader of her privacy. 

It was midday, and the sun stood equally distant from 
either goal, when young Actseon, son of King Cadmus, 
thus addressed the youths who with him were hunting 
the stag in the mountains : 

"Friends, our nets and our weapons are wet with the 
blood of our victims; we have had sport enough for one 
day, and to-morrow we can renew our labors. Now, 
while Phoebus parches the earth, let us put by our imple- 
ments and indulge ourselves with rest." 

There was a valley thick enclosed with cypresses and 
pines, sacred to the huntress queen, Diana. In the ex- 
tremity of the valley was a cave, not adorned with art, 
but nature had counterfeited art in its construction, for 
she had turned the arch of its roof with stones as deli- 
cately fitted as if by the hand of man. A fountain burst 
out from one side, whose open basin was bounded by a 
grassy rim. Here the goddess of the woods used to come 
when weary with hunting and lave h^r virgin limbs in 
the sparkling water. 

One day, having repaired thither with her nymphs, she 
handed her javelin, her quiver, and her bow to one, her 
robe to another, while a third unbound the sandals from 
her feet. Then Crocale, the most skilful of them, ar- 
ranged her hair, and Nephele, Hyale, and the rest drew 
water in capacious urns. While the goddess was thus 
employed in the labors of the toilet, behold Actason, hav- 
ing quitted his companions, and rambling without any 



DIANA AND ACTION 35 

especial object, came to the place, led thither by his 
destiny. As he presented himself at the entrance of the 
cave, the nymphs, seeing a man, screamed and rushed 
towards the goddess to hide her with their bodies. But 
she was taller than the rest and overtopped them all by 
a head. Such a color as tinges the clouds at sunset or 
at dawn came over the countenance of Diana thus taken 
by surprise. Surrounded as she was by her nymphs, shj 
yet turned half away, and sought with a sudden impulse 
for her arrows. As they were not at hand, she dash J 
the water into the face of the intruder, adding thcs^ 
words: "Now go and tell, if you can, that you have 
seen Diana unapparelled." Immediately a pair of branch- 
ing stag's horns grew out of his head, his neck gained in 
length, his ears grew sharp-pointed, his hands became 
feet, his arms long legs, his body was covered with a 
hairy spotted hide. Fear took the place of his former 
boldness, and the hero fled. He could not but admire his 
own speed ; but when he saw his horns in the water, "Ah, 
wretched me !" he would have said, but no sound followed 
the effort. He groaned, and tears flowed down the face 
\vhich had taken the place of his own. Yet his conscious- 
ness remained. What shall he do ? go home to seek the 
palace, or lie hid in the woods ? The latter he was afraid, 
the former he was ashamed, to do. While he hesitated 
the dogs saw him. First Melampus, a Spartan dog, gave 
the signal with his bark, then Pamphagus, Dorceus, Le- 
laps, Theron, Nape, Tigris, and all the rest, rushed after 
him swifter than the wind. Over rocks and cliffs, through 
mountain gorges that seemed impracticable, he fled and 
they followed. Where he had often chased the stag and 
cheered on his pack, his pack now chased him, cheered 
on by his huntsmen. He longed to cry out, "I am Ac- 
taeon ; recognize your master !" but the words came not 
at his will. The air resounded with the bark of the dogs. 
Presently one fastened on his back, another seized his 
shoulder. While they held their master, the rest of the 
pack came up and buried their teeth in his flesh. He 
groaned, not in a human voice, yet certainly not in a 
stag's, and falling on his knees, raised his eyes, and 
would have raised his arms in supplication, if he had had 



Z6 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

them. His friends and fellow-huntsmen cheered on the 
dogs, and looked everywhere for Actseon, calling on him 
to join the sport. At the sound of his name he turned 
his head, and heard them regret that he should be away. 
He earnestly wished he was. He would have been well 
pleased to see the exploits of his dogs, but to feel them 
was too much. They were all around him, rending and 
tearing ; and it was not till they had torn his life out that 
the anger of Diana was satisfied. 

In Shelley's poem "Adonais" is the following allusion 
to the story of Actaeon : 

'"Midst others of less note came one frail form, 
A phantom among men : companionless 
As the last cloud of an expiring storm, 
Whose thunder is its knell; he, as I guess, 
Had gazed on Nature's naked loveliness, 
Actseon-like, and now he fled astray 
With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness : 
And his own Thoughts, along that rugged way. 
Pursued like raging hounds their father and their prey." 

Stanza 31. 

The allusion is probably to Shelley himsejf. 



LATONA AND THE RUSTICS 

Some thought the goddess in this instance more severe 
than was just, while others praised her conduct as strictly 
consistent with her virgin dignity. As usual, the recent 
event brought older ones to mind, and one of the by- 
standers told this story: "Some countrymen of Lycia 
once insulted the goddess Latona, but n^t with impunity. 
When I was young, my father, who had grown too old 
for active labors, sent me to Lycia to drive thence some 
choice oxen, and there I saw the very pond and marsh 
where the wonder happened. Near by stood an ancient 
altar, black with the smoke of sacrifice and almost buried 
among the reeds. I inquired whose altar it might be, 
whether of Faunus or the Naiads, or some god of the 
neighboring mountain, and one of the country people 
replied, 'No mountain or river god possesses this altar, 



LATONA AND THE RUSTICS 37 

but she whom royal Juno in her jealousy drove from land 
to land, denying her any spot of earth whereon to rear 
her twins. Bearing in her arms the infant deities, Latona 
reached this land, weary with her burden and parched 
with thirst. By chance she espied on the bottom of the 
valley this pond of clear water, where the country people 
were at work gathering willows and osiers. The goddess 
approached, and kneeling on the bank would have slaked 
her thirst in the cool stream, but the rustics forbade her. 
'Why do you refuse me water?' said she; 'water is 
free to all. Nature allows no one to claim as property 
the sunshine, the air, or the water. I come to take my 
share of the common blessing. Yet I ask it of you as a 
favor. I have no intention of washing my limbs in it, 
weary though they be, but only to quench my thirst. My 
mouth is so dry that I can hardly speak. A draught of 
water would be nectar to me ; it would revive me, and I 
would own myself indebted to you for life itself. Let 
these infants move your pity, who stretch out their little 
arms as if to plead for me ;' and the children, as it 
happened, were stretching out their arms. 

"Who would not have been moved with these gentle 
words of the goddess? But these clowns persisted in 
their rudeness; they even added jeers and threats of vio- 
lence if she did not leave the place. Nor was this all. 
They waded into the pond and stirred up the mud with 
their feet, so as to make the water unfit to drink. Latona 
was so angry that she ceased to mind her thirst. She 
no longer supplicated the clowns, but lifting her hands to 
heaven exclaimed, 'May they never quit that pool, but 
pass their lives there !' And it came to pass accordingly. 
They now live in the water, sometimes totally submerged, 
then raising their heads above the surface or swimming 
upon it. Sometimes they come out upon the bank, but 
soon leap back again into the water. They still use their 
base voices in railing, and though they have the water 
all to themselves, are not ashamed to croak in the midst 
of it. Their voices are harsh, their throats bloated, their 
mouths have become stretched by constant railing, their 
necks have shrunk up and disappeared, and their heads 
are joined to their bodies. Their backs are green, their 



38 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

disproportioned bellies white, and in short they are now 
frogs, and dwell in the slimy pool." 

This story explains the allusion in one of Milton's 
sonnets, ''On the detraction which followed upon his 
writing certain treatises." 

"I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs 
By the known laws of ancient I'berty, 
When straight a barbarous noise environs me 

Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs. 

As when those hinds that were transformed to frogs 
Railed at Latona's twin-born progeny, 
Which after held the sun and moon in fee." 

The persecution which Latona experienced from Juno 
is alluded to in the story. The tradition was that the 
future mother of Apollo and Diana, flying from the wrath 
of Juno, besought all the islands of the ^gean to afford 
her a place of rest, but all feared too much the potent 
queen of heaven to assist her rival. Delos alone consent- 
ed to become the birthplace of the future deitiee. Delos 
was then a floating island ; but when Latona arrived there, 
Jupiter fastened it with adamantine chains to the bottom 
of the sea, that it might be a secure resting-place for his 
beloved. Byron alludes to Delos in his "Don Juan" : 

"The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece! 
Where burning Sappho loved and sung. 
Where grew the arts of war and peace, 
Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!" 



CHAPTER V 

PHAETON 

Phaeton was the son of ApoUo-aud the-nympluCly-^ 
meiie. One day a schoolfellow laughed at the idea of 
his being the son of the god, and Phaeton went in rage 
and shame and reported it to his mother. "If," said he, 
"I am indeed of heavenly birth, give me, mother, some 



PHAETON 39 

proof of it, and establish my claim to the honor." Cly- 
mene stretched forth her hands towards the skies, and 
said, "I call to witness the Sun which looks down upon 
us, that I have told you the truth. If I speak falsely, 
let this be the last time I behold his light. But it needs 
not much labor to go and inquire for yourself ; the land 
whence the Sun rises lies next to ours. Go and demand 
of him whether he will own you as a son." Phaeton 
heard with delight. He travelled to India, which lies 
directly in the regions of sunrise ; and, full of hope and 
pride, approached the goal whence his parent begins his 
course. 

The palace of the Sun stood reared aloft on columns, 
glittering with gold and precious stones, while polished 
ivory formed the ceilings, and silver the doors. The 
workmanship surpassed the material ; ^ for upon the 
walls Vulcan had represented earth, sea, and skies, with 
their inhabitants. In the sea were the nymphs, some 
sporting in the waves, some riding on the backs of fishes, 
while others sat upon the rocks and dried their sea-green 
hair. Their faces were not all alike, nor yet unlike, 
but such as sisters' ought to be.^ The earth had its towns 
and forests and rivers and rustic divinities. Over all was 
carved the likeness of the glorious heaven ; and on the 
silver doors the twelve signs of the zodiac, six on each 
side. 

Clymene's son advanced up the steep ascent, and 
entered the halls of his disputed father. He approached 
the paternal presence, but stopped at a distance, for the 
light was more than he could bear. Phoebus, arrayed 
in a purple vesture, sat on a throne, which glittered as 
with diamonds. On his right hand and his left stood the 
Day, the Month, and the Year, and, at regular intervals, 
the Hours. Spring stood with her head crowned with 
flowers, and Summer, with garment cast aside, and a 
garland formed of spears of ripened grain, and Autumn, 
with his feet stained with grape- juice, and icy Winter, 
with his hair stifTened with hoar frost. Surrounded by 
these attendants, the Sun, with the eye that sees every- 
thing, beheld the youth dazzled with the novelty and 

* See Proveibial Expressions. 



40 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

splendor of the scene, and inquired the purpose of his 
errand. The youth rephed, "O Hght of the boundless 
world, Phoebus, my father, if you permit me to use that 
name, give me some proof, I beseech you, by which I 
may be known as yours." He ceased ; and his father, 
laying aside the beams that shone all around his head, 
bade him approach, and embracing him, said, "My son, 
you deserve not to be disownea, and I confirm what your 
mother has told you. To put an end to your doubts, ask 
what you will, the gift shall be yours. I call to witness 
that dreadful lake, which I never saw, but which we gods 
swear by in our most solemn engagements." Phaeton 
immediately asked to be permitted for one day to drive 
the chariot of the sun. The father repented of his 
promise ; thrice and four times he shook his radiant head 
in warning. "I have spoken rashly," said he ; "this only 
request I would fain deny. I beg you to withdraw it. 
It is not a safe boon, nor one, my Phaeton, suited to your 
youth and strength. Your lot is mortal, and you ask what 
is beyond a mortal's power. In your ignorance you aspire 
to do that which not even the gods themselves may do. 
None but myself may drive the flaming car of day. Not 
even Jupiter, whose terrible right arm hurls the thunder- 
bolts. The first part of the way is steep, and such as , 
the horses when fresh in the morning can hardly climb ; 
the middle is high up in the heavens, whence I myself 
can scarcely, without alarm, look down and behold the 
earth and sea stretched beneath me. The last part of the 
road descends rapidly, and requires most careful driving. 
Tethys, who is waiting to receive me, often trembles for 
me lest I should fall headlong. Add to alLthis, the heaven 
is all the time turning round and carrying the stars with 
it. I have to be perpetually on my guard lest that move- 
ment, which sweeps everything else along, should hurry 
me also away. Suppose I should lend you the chariot, 
what would you do? Could you keep your course while 
the sphere was revolving under you ? Perhaps you think 
that there are forests and cities, the abodes of gods, and 
palaces and temples on the way. On the contrary, the 
road is through the midst of frightful monsters. You 
pass by the horns of the Bull, in front of the Archer, and 



PHAETON 41 

near the Lion's jaws, and where the Scorpion stretches 
its arms in one direction and the Crab in another. Nor 
will you find it easy to guide those horses, with their 
breasts full of fire that they breathe forth from their 
mouths and nostrils. I can scarcely govern them myself, 
when they are unruly and resist the reins. Beware, my 
son, lest I be the donor of a fatal gift ; recall your request 
while yet you may. Do you ask me for a proof that you 
are sprung from my blood? I give you a proof in my 
fears for you. Look at my face I would that you could 
look into my breast, you would there see all a father's 
anxiety. Finally," he continued, "look round the world 
and choose whatever you will of what earth or sea con- 
tains most precious ask it and fear no refusal. This 
only I pray you not to urge. It is not honor, but destruc- 
tion you seek. Why do you hang round my neck and still 
entreat me? You shall have it if you persist, the oath 
is sworn and must be kept, but I beg you to choose more 
wisely." 

He ended; but the youth rejected all admonition and 
held to his demand. So, having resisted as long as he 
could, Phoebus at last led the way to where stood the lofty 
chariot. 

It was of gold, the gift of Vulcan ; the axle was of gold, 
the pole and wheels of gold, the spokes of silver. Along 
the seat were rows of chrysolites and diamonds which 
reflected all around the brightness of the sun. While 
the daring youth gazed in admiration, the early Dawn 
threw open the purple doors of the east, and showed the 
pathway strewn with roses. The stars withdrew, mar- 
shalled by the Day-star, which last of all retired also. 
The father, when he saw the earth beginning to glow, and 
the Moon preparing to retire, ordered the Hours to har- 
ness up the horses. They obeyed, and led forth from the 
lofty stalls the steeds full fed with ambrosia, and attached 
the reins. Then the father bathed the face of his son 
with a powerful unguent, and made him capable of en- 
during the brightness of the flame. He set the rays on 
his head, and, with a foreboding sigh, said, "If, my son, 
you will in this at least heed my advice, spare the whip 
and hold tight the reins. They go fast enough of their 



42 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

own accord ; the labor is to hold them in. You are not 
to take the straight road directly between the five circles, 
but turn off to the left. Keep within the limit of the 
middle zone, and avoid the northern and the southern 
alike. You will see the marks of the wheels, and they 
will serve to guide you. And, that the skies and the earth 
may each receive their due share of heat, go not too high, 
or you will burn the heavenly dwellings, nor too low, or 
you will set the earth on fire; the middle course is safest 
and best.^ And now I leave you to your chance, which I 
hope will plan better for you than you have done for 
yourself. Night is passing out of the western gates and 
we can delay no longer. Take the reins ; but if at last 
your heart fails you, and you will benefit by my advice, 
'stay where you are in safety, and suffer me to light and 
warm the earth." The agile youth sprang into the chariot, 
stood erect, and grasped the reins with delight, pouring 
out thanks to his reluctant parent. 

Meanwhile the horses fill the air with their snortings 
and fiery breath, and stamp the ground impatient. Now 
the bars are let down, and the boundless plain of the 
universe lies open before them. They dart forward and 
cleave the opposing clouds, and outrun the morning 
breezes which started from the same eastern goal. The 
steeds soon perceived that the load they drew was lighter 
than usual ; and as a ship without ballast is tossed hither 
and thither on the sea, so the chariot, without its accus- 
tomed weight, was dashed about as if empty. They rush 
headlong and leave the travelled road. He is alarmed, 
and knows not how to guide them; nor, if he knew, has 
he the power. Then, for the first time, the Great and 
Little Bear were scorched with heat, 'and would fain, 
if it were possible, have plunged into the water ; and the 
Serpent which lies coiled up round the north pole, torpid 
and harmless, grew warm, and with warmth felt its rage 
revive. Bootes, they say, fled away, though encumbered 
with his plough, and all unused to rapid motion. 

When hapless Phaeton looked down upon the earth, 
now spreading in vast extent beneath him, he grew pale 
and his knees shook with terror. In spite of the glare 

* See Proverbial Expressions. 



PHAETON 43 

all around him, the sight of his eyes grew dim. He 
wished he had never touched his father's horses, never 
learned his parentage, never prevailed in his request. He 
is borne along like a vessel that flies before a tempest, 
when the pilot can do no more and betakes himself to his 
prayers. What shall he do? Much of the heavenly road 
is left behind, but more remains before. He turns his 
eyes from one direction to the other ; now to the goal 
whence he began his course, now to the realms of sunset 
which he is not destined to reach. He loses his self-com- 
mand, and knows not what to do, whether to draw tight 
the reins or throw them loose ; he forgets the names of 
the horses. He sees with terror the monstrous forms 
scattered over the surface of heaven. Here the Scor- 
pion extended his two great arms, with his tail and 
crooked claws stretching over two signs of the zodiac. 
When the boy beheld him, reeking with poison and men- 
acing with his fangs, his courage failed, and the reins 
fell from his hands. The horses, when they felt them 
loose on their backs, dashed headlong, and unrestrained 
went ofif into unknown regions of the sky, in among the 
stars, hurling the chariot over pathless places, now up in 
high heaven, now down almost to the earth. The moon 
saw with astonishment her brother's chariot running be- 
neath her own. The clouds begin to smoke, and the 
mountain tops take fire ; the fields are parched with heat, 
the plants wither, the trees with their leafy branches burn, 
the harvest is ablaze ! But these are small things. Great 
cities perished, with their walls and towers ; whole nations 
with their people were consumed to ashes ! The forest- 
clad mountains burned, Athos and Taurus and Tmolus 
and CEte ; Ida, once celebrated for fountains, but now all 
dry ; the Muses' mountain Helicon, and Hsemus ; yEtna, 
with fires within and without, and Parnassus, with his 
two peaks, and Rhodope, forced at last to part with his 
snowy crown. Her cold climate was no protection to 
Scythia, Caucasus burned, and Ossa and Pindus, and, 
greater than both, Olympus ; the Alps high in air, and the 
Apennines crowned with clouds. 

Then Phaeton beheld the world on fire, and felt the 
heat intolerable. The air he breathed was like the air 



44 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

of a furnace and full of burning ashes, and the smoke 
was of a pitchy darkness. He dashed forward he knew 
not whither. Then, it is believed, the people of Ethiopia 
became black by the blood being forced so suddenly to 
the surface, and the Libyan desert was dried up to the 
condition in which it remains to this day. The Nymphs 
of the fountains, with dishevelled hair, mourned their 
waters, nor were the rivers safe beneath their banks : 
Tanais smoked, and Caicus, Xanthus, and Meander ; 
Babylonian Euphrates and Ganges, Tagus with golden 
sands, and Cayster where the swans resort. Nile fled 
away and hid his head in the desert, and there it still 
remains concealed. Where he used to discharge his 
waters through seven mouths into the sea, there seven 
dry channels alone remained. The earth cracked open, 
and through the chinks light broke into Tartarus, and 
frightened the king of shadows and his queen. The sea 
shrank up. Where before was water, it became a dry 
plain ; and the mountains that lie beneath the waves lifted 
up their heads and became islands. The fishes sought 
the lowest depths, and the dolphins no longer ventured as 
usual to sport on the surface. Even Nereus, and his wife 
Doris, with the Nereids, their daughters, sought the deep- 
est caves for refuge. Thrice Neptune essayed to raise 
his head above the surface, and thrice was driven back 
by the heat. Earth, surrounded as she was by waters, 
yet with head and shoulders bare, screening her face with 
her hand, looked up to heaven, and with a husky voice 
called on Jupiter: 

"O ruler of the gods, if I have deserved this treatment, 
and it is your will that I perish with fire, why withhold 
your thunderbolts? Let me at least fall by your hand. 
Is this the reward of my fertility, of my obedient service? 
Is it for this that I have supplied herbage for cattle, and 
fruits for men, and frankincense for your altars? But 
if I am unworthy of regard, what has my brother Ocean 
done to deserve such a fate? If neither of us can excite 
your pity, think, I pray you, of your own heaven, and 
behold how both the poles are smoking which sustain 
your palace, which must fall if they be destroyed. Atlas 
faints, and scarce holds up his burden. If sea, earth, 



PHAETON 45 

and heaven perish, we fall into ancient Chaos. Save what 
yet remains to us from the devouring flame. O, take 
thought for our deliverance in this awful moment !" 

Thus spoke Earth, and overcome with heat and thirst, 
could say no more. Then Jupiter omnipotent, calling to 
witness all the gods, including him who had lent the 
chariot, and showing them that all was lost unless speedy 
remedy were applied, mounted the lofty tower from 
whence he diffuses clouds over the earth, and hurls the 
forked lightnings. But at that time not a cloud was to 
be found to interpose for a screen to earth, nor was a 
shower remaining unexhausted. He thundered, and 
brandishing a lightning bolt in his right hand launched 
it against the charioteer, and struck him at the same mo- 
ment from his seat and from existence ! Phaeton, with 
his hair on fire, fell headlong, like a shooting star which 
marks .the heavens with its brightness as it falls, and 
Eridanus, the great river, received him and cooled his 
burning frame. The Italian Naiads reared a tomb for 
him, and inscribed these words upon the stone : 

"Driver of Phoebus' chariot. Phaeton, 
Struck by Jove's thunder, rests beneath this stone. 
He could not rule his father's car of fire, 
Yet was it much so nobly to aspire." ^ 

His sisters, the Heliades, as they lamented his fate, 
were turned into poplar trees, on the banks of the river, 
and their tears, which continued to flow, became amber 
as they dropped into the stream. 

Milman, in his poem of "Samor," makes the following 
allusion to Phaeton's story : 

"As when the palsied universe aghast 
Lay . . . mute and still, 

When drove, so poets sing, the Sun-born youth 
Devious through Heaven's affrighted signs his sire's 
Ill-granted chariot. Him the Thunderer hurled 
From th' empyrean headlong to the gulf 
Of the half-parched Eridanus, where weep 
Even now the sister trees their amber tears 
O'er Phaeton untimely dead." 

In the beautiful lines of Walter Savage Landor, de- 

* See Proverbial Expressions. 



46 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

scriptive of the Sea-shell, there is an allusion to the Sun's 
palace and chariot. The water-nymph says : 

"... I have sinuous shells of pearly hue 
Within, and things that lustre have imbibed 
In the sun's palace porch, where when unyoked 
His chariot wheel stands midway on the wave. 
Shake one and it awakens ; then apply 
Its polished lip to your attentive ear, 
And it remembers its august abodes, 
And murmurs as the ocean murmurs there." 

Gebir, Book I. 



CHAPTER VI 

MIDAS BAUCIS AND PHILEMON 

Bacchus, on a certain occasion, found his old school- 
master and foster-father, Silenus, missing. The old man 
had been drinking, and in that state wandered away, and 
was found by some peasants, who carried him to their 
king, Midas. Midas recognized him, and treated him 
hospitably, entertaining him for ten days and nights with 
an unceasing round of jollity. On the eleventh day he 
brought Silenus back, and restored him in safety to his 
))upil. Whereupon Bacchus offered Midas his choice 
of a reward, whatever he might wish. He asked that 
whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. 
Bacchus consented, though sorry that he had not made a 
better choice. Midas went his way, rejoicing in his new- 
acquired power, which he hastened t6 put to the test. 
He could scarce believe his eyes when he found a twig 
of an oak, which he plucked from the branch, become 
gold in his hand. He took up a stone ; it changed to gold. 
He touched a sod; it did the same. He took an apple 
from the tree ; you would have thought he had robbed 
the garden of the Hesperides. His joy knew no bounds, 
and as soon as he got home, he ordered the servants to 
set a splendid repast on the table. Then he found to his 
dismay that whether he touched bread, it hardened in his 



MIDAS ^7 

hand; or put a morsel to his lips, it defied his teeth. He 
took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat like 
melted gold. 

In consternation at the unprecedented affliction, he 
strove to divest himself of his power; he hated the gift 
he had lately coveted. But all in vain ; starvation seemed 
to await him. He raised his arms, all shining with gold, 
in prayer to Bacchus, begging to be delivered from his 
glittering destruction. Bacchus, merciful deity, heard and 
consented. "Go," said he, "to the River Pactolus, trace 
the stream to its fountain-head, there plunge your head 
and body in, and wash away your fault and its pun- 
ishment." He did so, and scarce had he touched the 
waters before the gold-creating power passed into them, 
and the river-sands became changed into gold, as they 
remain to this day. 

Thenceforth Midas, hating wealth and splendor, dwelt 
in the country, and became a worshipper of Pan, the 
god of the fields. On a certain occasion Pan had the~] 
temerity to compare his music with that of -ApoU, and ' 
to challenge the god of the lyre to a trial of skill. The 
challenge was accepted, and Tmolus, the mountain god, 
was chosen umpire. The senior took his seat, and cleared 
av/ay the trees from his ears to listen. At a given signal 
Pan blew on his pipes, and with his rustic melody gave 
great satisfaction to himself and his faithful follower 
Midas, who happened to be present. Then Tmolus turned 
his head toward the Sun-god, and all his trees turned with 
him. .^ ^ollo r ose, his brow wreathed with Parnassian 
laurel, while his robe of Tyrian purple swept the ground. 
In his left hand he held the lyre, and with his right hand 
struck the strings. Ravished with the harmony, Tmolus 
at once awarded the victory to the god of the lyre, and 
all but Midas acquiesced in the judgment. He dissented, 
and questioned the justice of the award. Apnllo would 
not sufifer such a depraved pair of ears any longer to 1 
wear the human form, but caused them to increase in I 
length, grow hairy, within and without, and movable on I 
their roots ; in short, to be on the perfect pattern of those \ 
of an ass. "- ^ 

Mortified enough was King Midas at this mishap ; but \ 



48 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

- he consoled himself with the thought that it was possible 
lito hide his misfortune, which he attempted to do by means 
ijof an ample turban or head-dress. But his hair-dresser 
of course knew the secret. He was charged not to men- 
tion it, and threatened with dire punishment if he pre- 
sumed to disobey. But he found it too much for his 
discretion to keep such a secret; so he went out into the 
meadow, dug a hole in the ground, and stooping down, 
whispered the story, and covered it up. Before long a 
thick bed of reeds sprang up in the meadow, and as soon 
as it had gained its growth, began whispering the story, 
and has continued to do so, from that day to this, every 
time a breeze passes over the place. 

The story of King Midas has been told by others with 
some variations. Dryden, in the "Wife of Bath's Tale," 
makes Midas's queen the betrayer of the secret: 

"This Midas knew, and durst communicate 
To none but to his wife his ears of state." 



Midas was king of Phrygia. He was the son of Gor- 
dius, a poor countryman, who was taken by the people 
and made king, in obedience to the command of the 
oracle, which had said that their future king should come 
in a wagon. While the people were deliberating, Gor- 
dius with his wife and son came driving his wagon into 
the public square. 

Gordius, being rfiade king, dedicated his wagon to the 
deity of the oracle, and tied it up in its place with a fast 
knot. This was the celebrated Gordian knot, which, in 
after times it was said, whoever should untie should be- 
come lord of all Asia. Many tried to untie it, but none 
succeeded, till Alexander the Great, in his career of con- 
quest, came to Phrygia. He tried his skill with as ill suc- 
cess as others, till growing impatient he drew his sword 
and cut the knot. When he afterwards succeeded in 
subjecting all Asia to his sway, people began to think that 
he had complied with the terms of the oracle according 
to its true meaning. 



BAUCIS AND PHILEMON 49 



BAUCIS AND PHILEMON 

On a certain hill in Phrygia stands a linden tree and 
an oak, enclosed by a low wall. Not far from the spot 
is a marsh, formerly good habitable land, but now in- 
dented with pools, the resort of fen-birds and cormorants. 
Once on a time Jupiter, in human shape, visited this 
country, and with him his son Mercury (he of the ca- 
duceus), without his wings. They presented themselves, 
as weary travellers, at many a door, seeking rest and 
shelter, but found all closed, for it was late, and the in- 
hospitable inhabitants would not rouse themselves to open 
for their reception. At last a humble mansion received 
them, a small thatched cottage, where Baucis, a pious old 
dame, and her husband Philemon, united when young, 
had grown old together. Not ashamed of their poverty, 
they made it endurable by moderate desires and kind dis- 
positions. One need not look there for master or for 
servant ; they two were the whole household, master and 
servant alike. When the two heavenly guests crossed 
the humble threshold, and bowed their heads to pass 
under the low door, the old man placed a seat, on which 
Baucis, bustling and attentive, spread a cloth, and begged 
them to sit down. Then she raked out the coals from the 
ashes, and kindled up a fire, fed it with leaves and dry 
bark, and with her scanty breath blew it into a flame. 
She brought out of a corner split sticks and dry branches, 
broke them up, and placed them under the small kettle. 
Her husband collected some pot-herbs in the garden, and 
she shred them from the stalks, and prepared them for 
the pot. He reached down with a forked stick a flitch of 
bacon hanging in the chimney, cut a small piece, and put 
it in the pot to boil with the herbs, setting away the rest 
for another time. A beechen bowl was filled with warm 
water, tliat their guests might wash. While all was do- 
ing, they beguiled the time with conversation. 

On the bench designed for the guests was laid a cush- 
ion stuffed with sea-weed ; and a cloth, only produced 
on great occasions, but ancient and coarse enough, was 
spread over that. The old lady, with her apron on, with 
trembling hand set the table. One leg was shorter than 



50 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

the rest, but a piece of slate put under restored the level. 
When fixed, she rubbed the table down with some sweet- 
smelling herbs. Upon it she set some of chaste Minerva's 
olives, some cornel berries preserved in vinegar, and 
added radishes and cheese, with eggs lightly cooked in 
the ashes. All were served in earthen dishes, and an 
earthenware pitcher, with wooden cups, stood beside 
them. When all was ready, the stew, smoking hot, was 
set on the table. Some wine, not of the oldest, was 
added ; and for dessert, apples and wild honey ; and over 
and above all, friendly faces, and simple but hearty 
welcome. 

Now while the repast proceeded, the old folks were 
astonished to see that the wine, as fast as it was poured 
out, renewed itself in the pitcher, of its own accord. 
Struck with terror, Baucis and Philemon recognized their 
heavenly guests, fell on their knees, and with clasped 
hands implored forgiveness for their poor entertain- 
ment. There was an old goose, which they kept as the 
guardian of their humble cottage ; and they bethought 
them to make this a sacrifice in honor of their guests. 
But the goose, too nimble, with the aid of feet and wings, 
for the old folks, eluded their pursuit, and at last took 
shelter between the gods themselves. They forbade it to 
be slain ; and spoke in these words : "We are gods. This 
inhospitable village shall pay the penalty of its impiety ; 
you alone shall go free from the chastisement. Quit 
your house, and come with us to the top of yonder hill." 
They hastened to obey, and, staff in hand, labored up the 
steep ascent. They had reached to within an arrow's 
flight of the top, when turning their eyes below, they 
beheld all the country sunk in a lak^, only their own 
house left standing. While they gazed with wonder at 
the sight, and lamented the fate of their neighbors, that 
old house of theirs was changed into a temple. Col- 
umns took the place of the corner posts, the thatch grew 
yellow and appeared a gilded roof, the floors became 
marble, the doors were enriched with carving and orna- 
ments of gold. Then spoke Jupiter in benignant accents : 
"Excellent old man, and woman worthy of such a hus- 
band, speak, tell us your wishes ; what favor have you 



BAUCIS AND PHILEMON 51 

to ask of us?" Philemon cook counsel with Baucis a 
few moments ; then declared to the gods their united 
wish. "We ask to be priests and guardians of this your 
temple ; and since here we have passed our lives in love 
and concord, we wish that one and the same hour may 
take us both from life, that I may not live to see her 
grave, nor be laid in my own by her." Their prayer was 
granted. They were the keepers of the temple as long 
as they lived. When grown very old, as they stood one 
day before the steps of the sacred edifice, and were telling 
the story of the place, Baucis saw Philemon begin to 
put forth leaves, and old Philemon saw Baucis changing 
in like manner. And now a leafy crown had grown 
over their heads, while exchanging parting words, as 
long as they could speak. "Farewell, dear spouse," they 
said, together, and at the same moment the bark closed 
over their mouths. The Tyanean shepherd still shows 
the two trees, standing side by side, made out of the 
two good old people. 

The story of Baucis and Philemon has been imitated 
by Swift, in a burlesque style, the actors in the change 
being two wandering saints, and the house being changed 
into a church, of which Philemon is made the parson. 
The following may serve as a specimen: 

"They scarce had spoke, when, fair and soft. 
The roof began to mount aloft ; 
Aloft rose every beam and rafter; 
The heavy wall climbed slowly after. 
The chimney widened and grew higher. 
Became a steeple with a spire. 
The kettle to the top was hoist, 
And there stood fastened to a joist, 
But with the upside down, to show 
Its inclination for below; 
In vain, for a superior force. 
Applied at bottom, stops its course; 
Doomed ever in suspense to dwell, 
'Tis now no kettle, but a bell. 
A wooden jack, which had almost 
Lost by disuse the art to roast, 
A sudden alteration feels. 
Increased by new intestine wheels; 
And, what exalts the wonder more. 



52 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

The number made the motion slower; 

The flier, though 't had leaden feet, 

Turned round so quick you scarce could see 't; 

But slackened by some secret power, 

Now hardly moves an inch an hour. 

The jack and chimney, near allied, 

Had never left each other's side : 

The chimney to a steeple grown. 

The jack would not be left alone; 

But up against the steeple reared, 

Became a clock, and still adhered; 

And still its love to household cares 

By a shrill voice at noon declares, 

Warning the cook-maid not to burn 

That roast meat which it cannot turn; 

The groaning chair began to crawl, 

Like a huge snail, along the wall ; 

There stuck aloft in public view. 

And with small change, a pulpit grew. 

A bedstead of the antique mode. 

Compact of timber many a load, 

Such as our ancestors did use. 

Was metamorphosed into pews. 

Which still their ancient nature keep 

By lodging folks disposed to sleep." 



CHAPTER Vn 

PROSERPINE GLAUCUS AND SCYLLA 

When Jupiter and his brothers had defeated the 
Titans and banished them to Tartarus, a new enemy- 
rose up against the gods. They were the giants Typhon, 
Briareus, Enceladus, and others. Some .of them had a 
hundred arms, others breathed out fire. They were 
finally subdued and buried alive under Mount ^^tna, 
where they still sometimes struggle to get loose, and 
shake the whole island with earthquakes. Their breath 
comes up through the mountain, and is what men call 
the eruption of the volcano. 

The fall of these monsters shook the earth, so that 
Pluto was alarmed, and feared that his kingdom would 
be laid open to the light of day. Under this apprehen- 
sion, he mounted his chariot, drawn by black horses, 



PROSERPINE 53 

and took a circuit of inspection to satisfy himself of 
the extent of the damage. While he was thus engaged, 
Venus, who was sitting on Mount Eryx playing with 
her boy Cupid, espied him, and said, "My son, take your 
darts with which you conquer all, even Jove himself, 
and send one into the breast of yonder dark monarch, 
who rules the realm of Tartarus. Why should he alone 
escape? Seize the opportunity to extend your empire 
and mine. Do you not see that even in heaven some 
despise our power? Minerva the wise, and Diana the 
huntress, defy us ; and there is that daughter of Ceres. 
who threatens to follow their example. Now do you, 
if you have any regard for your own interest or mine, 
join these two in one." The boy unbound his quiver, 
and selected his sharpest and truest arrow ; then straining 
the bow against his knee, he attached the string, and, 
having made ready, shot the arrow with its barbed point 
right into the heart of Pluto. 

In the vale of Enna there is a lake embowered in 
woods, which screen it from the fervid rays of the sun, 
while the moist ground is covered with flowers, and 
Spring reigns perpetual. Here Proserpine was playing 
with her companions, gathering lilies and violets, and 
filling her basket and her apron with them, when Pluto 
oaw her, loved her, and carried her off. She screamed 
for help to her mother and companions ; and when in 
her fright she dropped the corners of her apron and 
let the flowers fall, childlike she felt the loss of them 
as an addition to her grief. The ravisher urged on his 
steeds, calling them each by name, and throwing loose 
over their heads and necks his iron-colored reins. When 
he reached the River Cyane, and it opposed his passage, 
he struck the river-bank with his trident, and the earth 
opened and gave him a passage to Tartarus. 

Ceres sought her daughter all the world over. Bright- 
haired Aurora, when she came forth in the morning, 
and Hesperus when he led out the stars in the evening, 
found her still busy in the search. But it was all un- 
availing. At length, weary and sad, she sat down upon 
a stone, and continued sitting nine days and nights, in 
the open air, under the sunlight and moonlight and fall- 



54 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

ing showers. It was where now stands the city of 
Eleusis, then the home of an old man named Celeus. 
He was out in the field, gathering acorns and black- 
berries, and sticks for his fire. His little girl was driving 
home their two goats, and as she passed the goddess, 
who appeared in the guise of an old woman, she said 
to her, "Mother," and the name was sweet to the ears 
of Ceres, "why do you sit here alone upon the rocks?" 
The old man also stopped, though his load was heavy, 
and begged her to come into his cottage, such as it was. 
She declined, and he urged her. "Go in peace," she 
replied, "and be happy in your daughter ; I have lost 
mine." As she spoke, tears or something like tears, 
for the gods never weep fell down her cheeks upon 
her bosom. The compassionate old man and his child 
wept with her. Then said he, "Come with us, and de- 
spise not our humble roof ; so may your daughter be 
restored to you in safety." "Lead on," said she, "I can- 
not resist that appeal !" So she rose from the stone 
and went with them. As they walked he told her that 
his only son, a little boy, lay very sick, feverish, and 
sleepless. She stooped and gathered some poppies. As 
they entered the cottage, they found all in great distress, 
for the boy seemed past hope of recovery. Metanira, 
his mother, received her kindly, and the goddess stoopec 
and kissed the lips of the sick child. Instantly the pale- 
ness left his face, and healthy vigor returned to his body. 
The whole family were delighted that is, the father, 
mother, and little girl, for they were all ; they had no 
servants. They spread the table, and put upon it curds 
and cream, apples, and honey in the comb. While they 
ate, Ceres mingled poppy juice in the/milk of the boy. 
When night came and all was still, she arose, and taking 
the sleeping boy, moulded his limbs with her hands, and 
uttered over him three times a solemn charm, then went 
and laid him in the ashes. His mother, who had been 
watching what her guest was doing, sprang forward with 
a cry and snatched the child from the fire. Then Ceres 
assumed her own form, and a divine splendor shone all 
around. While they were overcome with astonishment, 
she said, "Mother, you have been cruel in your fondness 



PROSERPINE 55 

to your son. I would have made him immortal, but you 
have frustrated my attempt. Nevertheless, he shall be 
great and useful. He shall teach men the use of the 
plough, and the rewards which labor can win from the 
cultivated soil." So saying, she wrapped a cloud about 
her, and mounting her chariot rode away. 

Ceres continued her search for her daughter, passing 
from land to land, and across seas and rivers, till at 
length she returned to Sicily, whence she at first set out, 
and stood by the banks of the River Cyane, where Pluto 
made himself a passage with his prize to his own do- 
minions. The river nymph would have told the goddess 
all she had witnessed, but dared not, for fear of Pluto ; 
so she only ventured to take up the girdle which Proser- 
pine had dropped in her flight, and waft it to the feet 
of the mother. Ceres, seeing this, was no longer in 
doubt of her loss, but she did not yet know the cause, 
and laid the blame on the innocent land. "Ungrateful 
soil," said she, "which I have endowed with fertility 
and clothed with herbage and nourishing grain, no more 
shall you enjoy my favors." Then the cattle died, the 
plough broke in the furrow, the seed failed to come up ; 
there was too much sun, there was too much rain ; the 
birds stole the seeds thistles and brambles were the 
only growth. Seeing this, the fountain Arethusa inter- 
ceded for the land. "Goddess," said she, "blame not the 
land ; it opened unwillingly to yield a passage to your 
daughter. I can tell you of her fate, for I have seen 
her. This is not my native country ; I came hither from 
Elis. I was a woodland nymph, and delighted in the 
chase. They praised my beauty, but I cared nothing 
ior it, and rather boasted of my hunting exploits. One 
day I was returning from the wood, heated with exer- 
cise, when I came to a stream silently flowing, so clear 
that you might count the pebbles 'on the bottom. The 
willows shaded it, and the grassy bank sloped down to 
the water's edge. I approached, I touched the water 
with my foot. I stepped in knee-deep, and not content 
with that, I laid my garments on the willows and went 
in. While I sported in the water, I heard an indistinct 
murmur coming up as out of the depths of the stream; 



56 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

and made haste to escape to the nearest bank. The 
voice said, 'Why do you fly, Arethusa? I am Alpheus, 
the god of this stream.' I ran, he pursued ; he was not 
more swift than I, but he was stronger, and gained upon 
me, as my strength failed. At last, exhausted, I cried 
for help to Diana. 'Help me, goddess ! help your vo- 
tary !' The goddess heard, and wrapped me suddenly in 
a thick cloud. The river god looked now this way and 
now that, and twice came close to me, but could not 
find me. 'xA.rethusa ! Arethusa !' he cried. Oh, how I 
trembled, like a lamb that hears the wolf growling out- 
side the fold. A cold sweat came over me, my hair 
flowed down in streams ; where my foot stood there was 
a pool. In short, in less time than it takes to tell it I 
became a fountain. But in this form Alpheus knew me 
and attempted to mingle his stream with mine. Diana 
cleft the ground, and I, endeavoring to escape him, 
plunged into the cavern, and through the bowels of 
the earth came out here in Sicily. While I passed 
through the lower parts of the earth, I saw your Proser- 
pine. She was sad, but no longer showing alarm in her 
countenance. Her look was such as became a queen 
the queen of Erebus ; the powerful bride of the monarch 
of the realms of the dead." 

Wlien Ceres heard this, she stood for a while like one 
stupefied; then turned her chariot towards heaven, and 
hastened to present herself before the throne of Jove. 
She told the story of her bereavement, and implored 
Jupiter to interfere to procure the restitution of her 
daughter. Jupiter consented on one condition, namely, 
that Proserpine should not during her ^fay in the lower 
world have taken any food ; otherwise, the Fates for- 
bade her release. Accordingly, Mercury was sent, ac- 
companied by Spring, to demand Proserpine of Pluto. 
The wily monarch consented ; but, alas ! the maiden had 
taken a pomegranate which Pluto offered her, and had 
sucked the sweet pulp from a few of the seeds. This 
was enough to prevent her complete release ; but a com- 
promise was made, by which she was to pass half the 
time with her mother, and the rest with her husband 
Pluto. 



PROSERPINE 57 

Ceres aWowed herself to be pacified with this arrange- 
ment, and restored the earth to her favor. Now she 
remembered Celeus and his family, and her promise to 
his infant son Triptolemus. When the boy grew up, 
she taught him the use of the plough, and how to sow 
the seed. She took him in her chariot, drawn by winged 
dragons, through all the countries of the earth, imparting 
to mankind valuable grains, and the knowledge of agri- 
culture. After his return, Triptolemus built a magnifi- 
cent temple to Ceres in Eleusis, and established the 
worship of the goddess, under the name of the Eleu- 
sinian mysteries, which, in the splendor and solemnity 
of their observance, surpassed all other religious cele- 
brations among the Greeks. 

There can be little doubt of this story of Ceres and 
Proserpine being an allegory. Proserpine signifies the 
seed-corn which when cast into the ground lies there 
concealed that is, she is carried off by the god of the 
underworld. It reappears that is, Proserpine is re- 
stored to her mother. Spring leads her back to the light 
of day. 

Milton alludes t6 the story of Proserpine in "Paradise 
Lost," Book IV.: 

". . . Not that fair field 
Of Enna where Proserpine gathering flowers, 
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis 
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain 
To seek her through the world, 
. . . might with this Paradise 
Of Eden strive." 

Hood, in his "Ode to Melancholy," uses the same 
allusion very beautifully : 

"Forgive, if somewhile I forget. 
In woe to come the present bliss; 
As frighted Proserpine let fall 
Her flowers at the sight of Dis." 

The River Alpheus does in fact disappear under- 
* ground, in part of its course, finding its way through 



58 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

subterranean channels till it again appears on the sur- 
face. It was said that the Sicilian fountain Arethtisa 
was the same stream, which, after passing under the 
sea, came up again in Sicily. Hence the story ran that 
a cup thrown into the Alpheus appeared again in Are- 
thusa. It is this fable of the underground course of 
Alpheus that Coleridge alludes to in his poem of "Kubla 
Khan" : 

"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 

A stately pleasure-dome decree, 
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran 
Through caverns measureless to man, 

Down to a sunless sea." 

In one of Moore's juvenile poems he thus alludes to 
the same story, and to the practice of throwing garlands 
or other light objects on his stream to be carried down- 
ward by it, and afterwards reproduced at its emerging: 

"O my beloved, how^ divinely sweet 
Is the pure joy when kindred spirits meet! 
Like him the river god, whose waters flow. 
With love their only light, through caves below. 
Wafting in triumph all the flowery braids 
And festal rings, with which Olympic maids 
Have decked his current, as an offering meet 
To lay at Arethusa's shining feet. 
Think, when he meets at last his fountain bride, 
What perfect love must thrill the blended tide! 
Each lost in each, till mingling into one. 
Their lot the same for shadow or for sun, 
A type of true love, to the deep they run." 

The following extract from Moore's "Rhymes on the 
Road" gives an account of a celebrated picture by Al- 
bano, at Milan, called a Dance of Loves : 

"'Tis for the theft of Enna's flower from arth 
These urchins celebrate their dance of mirth. 

Round the green tree, like fays upon a heath ; 

Those that are nearest linked in order bright. 
Cheek after cheek, like rosebuds in a wreath; 
And those more distant showing from beneath 

The others' wings their little eyes of light. 
While see! among the clouds, their eldest brother. 

But just flown up, tells with a smile of bliss, 
This prank of Pluto to his charmed mother. 

Who turns to greet the tidings with a kiss." 



GLAUCUS AND SCYLLA 59 



GLAUCUS AND SCYLLA 

Glaucus was a fisherman. One day he had drawn his 
nets to land, and had taken a great many fishes of vari- 
ous kinds. So he emptied his net, and proceeded to' 
sort the fishes on the grass. The place where he stood 
was a beautiful island in the river, a solitary spot, unin- 
habited, and not used for pasturage of cattle, nor ever 
visited by any but himself. On a sudden, the fishes, 
which had been laid on the grass, began to revive and. 
move their fins as if they were in the water ; and while 
he looked on astonished, they one and all moved off to 
the water, plunged in, and swam away. He did not 
know what to make of this, whether some god had done 
it or some secret power in the herbage. "What herb . 
has such a power?" he exclaimed; and gathering some 
of it, he tasted it. Scarce had the juices of the plant 
reached his palate when he fovmd himself agitated with 
a longing desire for the water. He could no longer 
restrain himself, but bidding farewell to earth, he 
plunged into the stream. The gods of the water re- 
ceived him graciously, and admitted him to the honor 
of their society. They obtained the consent of Oceanus 
and Tethys, the sovereigns of the sea. that all that was 
mortal in him should be washed away. A hundred 
rivers poured their waters over him. Then he lost all 
sense of his former nature and all consciousness. When 
he recovered, he found himself changed in form and 
mind. His hair was sea-green, and trailed behind him 
on the water ; his shoulders grew broad, and what had 
been thighs and legs assumed the form of a fish's tail. 
The sea-gods complimented him on the change of his 
appearance, and he fancied himself rather a good-looking 
personage. 

One day Glaucus saw the beautiful maiden Scylla, the 
favorite of the water-nymphs, rambling on the shore, 
and when she had found a sheltered nook, laving her 
limbs in the clear water. He fell in love with her, and 
showing himself on the surface, spoke to her, saying 
such things as he thought most likely to win her to stay ; 
for she turned to run immediately on the sight of him, 



60 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

and ran till she had gained a cliff overlooking the sea. 
Here she stopped and turned round to see whether it was 
a god or a sea animal, and observed with wonder his 
shape and color. Glaucus partly emerging from the 
water, and supporting himself against a rock, said, 
"Maiden, I am no monster, nor a sea animal, but a god; 
and neither Proteus nor Triton ranks higher than I. 
Once I was a mortal, and followed the sea for a living; 
but now I belong wholly to it." Then he told the story 
of his metamorphosis, and how he had been promoted to 
his present dignity, and added, "But what avails all this 
if it fails to move your heart?" He was going on in 
this strain, but Scylla turned and hastened away. 

Glaucus was in despair, but it occurred to him to con- 
sult the enchantress Circe. Accordingly he repaired to 
her island the same where afterwards Ulysses landed, 
as we shall see in ohe of our later stories. After mutual 
salutations, he said, "Goddess, I entreat your pity; you 
alone can relieve the pain I suffer. The power of herbs 
I know as well as any one, for it is to them I owe my 
change of form. I love Scylla. I am ashamed to tell 
you how I have sued and promised to her, and how 
scornfully she has treated me. I beseech you to use 
your incantations, or potent herbs, if they are more pre- 
vailing, not to cure me of my love, for that I do not 
wish, but to make her share it and yield me a like re- 
turn." To which Circe replied, for she was not insensible 
to the attractions of the sea-green deity, "You had better 
pursue a willing object; you are worthy to be sought, 
instead of having to seek in vain. Be not diffident, know 
your own worth. I protest to you that even I, goddess 
though I be, and learned in the virtues/of plants and 
spells, should not know how to refuse you. If she 
scorns you scorn her; meet one who is ready to meet 
you half way, and thus make a due return to both at 
once." To these words Glaucus replied, "Sooner shall 
trees grow at the bottom of the ocean, and sea-weed on 
the top of the mountains, than I will cease to love Scylla, 
and her alone." 

The goddess was indignant, but she could not punish 
him, neither did she wish to do so, for she liked him too 



GLAUCUS AND SCYLLA 61 

Avell ; so she turned all her wrath against her rival, poor 
Scylla. She took plants of poisonous powers and 
mixed them together, with incantations and charms. 
Then she passed through the crowd of gambolling 
beasts, the victims of her art, and proceeded to the coast 
of Sicily, where Scylla lived. There was a little bay on 
the shore to which Scylla used to resort, in the heat of 
the day, to breathe the air of the sea, and to bathe in its 
waters. Here the goddess poured her poisonous mix- 
ture, and muttered over it incantations of mighty power. 
Scylla came as usual and plunged into the water up to 
her waist. What was her horror to perceive a brood of 
serpents and barking monsters surrounding her ! At 
first she could not imagine they were a part of herself, 
and tried to run from them, and to drive them away ; but 
as she ran she carried them with her, and when she tried 
to touch her limbs, she found her hands touch only the 
yawning jaws of monsters. Scylla remained rooted to 
the spot. Her temper grew as ugly as her form, and she 
took pleasure in devouring hapless mariners who came 
within her grasp. Thus she destroyed six of the com- 
panions of Ulysses, and tried to wreck the ships of 
^neas, till at last she was turned into a rock, and as such 
still continues to be a terror to mariners. 

Keats, in his "Endymion," has given a new version of 
the ending of "Glaucus and Scylla." Glaucus consents 
to Circe's blandishments, till he by chance is witness to 
her transactions with her beasts.^ Disgusted with her 
treachery and cruelty, he tries to escape from her, but 
is taken and brought back, when with reproaches she 
banishes him. sentencing him to pass a thousand years 
in decrepitude and pain. He returns to the sea, and 
there finds the body of Scylla, whom the goddess has 
not transformed but drowned. Glaucus learns that his 
destiny is that, if he passes his thousand years in 
collecting all the bodies of drowned lovers, a youth be- 
loved of the gods will appear and help him. Endymion 
fulfils this projjhecy, and aids in restoring Glaucus to 
youth, and Scylla and all the drowned lovers to life. 

^ See page 241. 



62 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

The following is Glaucus's account of his feelings 
after his "sea-change" : 

"I plunged for life or death. To interknit 
One's senses with so dense a breathing stuff 
Might seem a work of pain; so not enough 
Can I admire how crystal-smooth it felt, 
And buoyant round my limbs. At first I dwelt 
Whole days and days in sheer astonishment; 
Forgetful utterly of self-intent, 
Moving but with the mighty ebb and flow. 
Then like a new-fledged bird that first doth show 
His spreaded feathers to the morrow chill, 
I tried in fear the pinions of my will. 
'Twas freedom! and at once I visited 
The ceaseless wonders of this ocean-bed," etc. 

Keats. 



CHAPTER Vni 

PYGMALION DRYOPE IVENU.S AND ADONIS APOLLO AND 

HYACINTHUS 

Pygmalion saw so much to blame in women that 
he came at last to abhor the sex, and resolved to live 
unmarried. He was a sculptor, and had made with 
wonderful skill a statue of ivory, so beautiful that no 
living woman came anywhere near it. It was indeed 
the perfect semblance of a maiden that seemed to be 
alive, and only prevented from moving by modesty. 
His art was so perfect that it concealed itself and its 
product looked like the workmanship of nature. Pyg- 
malion admired his own work, and at la^t fell in love 
with the counterfeit creation. Oftentimes he laid his 
hand upon it as if to assure himself whether it were 
living or not, and could not even then believe that it 
was only ivory. He caressed it, and gave it presents 
such as young girls love, bright shells and polished 
stones, little birds and flowers of various hues, beads 
and amber. He put raiment on its limbs, and jewels on 
its fingers, and a necklace about its neck. To the ears 
he hung earrings, and strings of pearls upon the breast. 
Her dress became her, and she looked not less charming 



PYGMALION 63 

than when unattired. He laid her on a couch spread 
with cloths of Tyrian dye, and called her his wife, and 
put her head upon a pillow of the softest feathers, as if 
she could enjoy their softness. 

The festival of Venus was at hand a festival cele- 
brated with great pomp at Cyprus. Victims were 
offered, the altars smoked, and the odor of incense filled 
the air. When Pygmalion had performed his part in the 
solemnities, he stood before the altar and timidly said, 
"Ye gods, who can do all things, give me, I pray you, 
for my wife" he dared not say "my ivory virgin," but 
said instead "one like my ivory virgin." Venus, who 
was present at the festival, heard him and knew the 
thought he would have uttered ; and as an omen of her 
favor, caused the flame on the altar to shoot up thrice 
in a fiery point into the air. When he returned home, 
he went to see his statue, and leaning over the couch, 
gave a kiss to the mouth. It seemed to be warm. He 
pressed its lips again, he laid his hand upon the limbs ; 
the ivory felt soft to his touch and yielded to his fingers 
like the wax of Hymettus. While he stands astonished 
and glad, though doubting, and fears he may be mis- 
taken, again and again with a lover's ardor he touches 
the object of his hopes. It was indeed alive! The veins 
when pressed yielded to the finger and again resumed 
their roundness. Then at last the votary of Venus 
found words to thank the goddess, and pressed his lips 
upon lips as real as his own. The virgin felt the kisses 
and blushed, and opening her timid eyes to the light, 
fixed them at the same moment on her lover. Venus 
blessed the nuptials she had formed, and from this union 
Paphos was born, from whom the city, sacred to Venus, 
received its name. 

Schiller, in his poem the "Ideals," applies this tale of 
Pygmalion to the love of nature in a youthful heart. 
The following translation is furnished by a friend : 

"As once with prayers in passion flowing, 
Pygmalion embraced the stone, 
Till from the frozen marble glowing, 
The light of feeling o'er him shone, 



64 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

So did I clasp with young devotion 

Bright nature to a poet's heart; 
Till breath and warmth and vital motion 

Seemed through the statue form to dart. 

"And then, in all my ardor sharing, 
The silent form expression found ; 
Returned my kiss of youthful daring. 

And understood my heart's quick sound. 
Then lived for me the bright creation, 

The silver rill with song was rife; 
The trees, the roses shared sensation. 
An echo of my boundless life." 

5-. G. B. 

DRYOPE 

Dryope and lole were sisters. The former was the 
wife of Andraemon, beloved by her husband, and happy 
in the birth of her first child. One day the sisters 
strolled to the bank of a stream that sloped gradually 
down to the water's edge, while the upland was over- 
grown with myrtles. They were intending to gather 
flowers for forming garlands for the altars of the 
nymphs, and Dryope carried her child at her bosom, 
precious burden, and nursed him as she walked. Near 
the water grew a lotus plant, full of purple flowers. 
Dryope gathered some and offered them to the baby, and 
lole was about to do the same, when she perceived blood 
dropping from the places where her sister had broken 
them off the stem. The plant was no other than the 
nymph Lotis, who, running from a base pursuer, had 
been changed into this form. This they learned from 
the country people when it was too late. 

Dryope, horror-struck when she perp^ived what she 
had done, would gladly have hastened from the spot, 
but found her feet rooted to the ground. She tried to 
pull them away, but moved nothing but her upper limbs. 
The woodiness crept upward, and by degrees invested 
her body. In anguish she attempted to tear her hair, but 
found her hands filled with leaves. The infant felt his 
mother's bosom begin to harden, and the milk cease to 
flow. lole looked on at the sad fate of her sister, and 
could render no assistance. She embraced the growing 



VENUS AND ADONIS 65 

trunk, as if she would hold back the advancing wood, 
and would gladly have been enveloped in the same bark. 
At this moment Andraemon, the husband of Dryope, 
with her father, approached; and when they asked for 
Dryope, lole pointed them to the new-formed lotus. 
They embraced the trunk of the yet warm tree, and 
showered their kisses on its leaves. 

Now there was nothing left of Dryope but her face. 
Her tears still flowed and fell on her leaves, and while 
she could she spoke. "I am not guilty. I deser\'e not 
this fate. I have injured no one. If I speak falsely, 
may my foliage perish with drought and my trunk be 
cut down and burned. Take this infant and give it to a 
nurse. Let it often be brought and nursed under my 
branches, and play in my shade ; and when he is old 
enough to talk, let him be taught to call me mother, and 
to say with sadness, 'My mother lies hid under this bark.' 
But bid him be careful of river banks, and beware how 
he plucks flowers, remembering that every bush he sees 
may be a goddess in disguise. Farewell, dear husband, 
and sister, and father. If you retain any love for me, 
let not the axe wound me, nor the flocks bite and tear 
my branches. Since I cannot stoop to you, climb up 
hither and kiss me; and while my lips continue to feel, 
lift up my child that I may kiss him. I can speak no 
more, for already the bark advances up my neck, and 
will soon shoot over me. You need not close my eyes, 
the bark will close them without your aid." Then the 
lips ceased to move, and life was extinct ; but the 
branches retained for some time longer the vital heat. 

Keats, in "Endymion," alludes to Dryope thus : 

"She took a lute from which there pulsing came 
A hvely prelude, fashioning the way 
In which her voice should wander. 'T was a lay 
More subtle-cadenced. more forest-wild 
Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child;" etc. 

VENUS AND ADONIS 

Venus, playing one day with her boy Cupid, wounded 
her bosom with one of his arrows. She pushed him 



(^ STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

away, but the wound was deeper than she thought. Be- 
fore it healed she beheld Adonis, and was captivated with 
him. She no longer took any interest in her favor- 
ite resorts Paphos, and Cnidos, and Amathos, rich in 
metals. She absented herself even from heaven, for 
Adonis was dearer to her than heaven. Him she 
followed and bore him company. She who used to 
love to recline in the shade, with no care but to culti- 
vate her charms, now rambles through the woods and 
over the hills, dressed like the huntress Diana ; and calls 
her dogs, and chases hares and stags, or other game 
that it is safe to hunt, but keeps clear of the wolves and 
bears, reeking with the slaughter of the herd. She 
charged Adonis, too, to beware of such dangerous ani- 
mals. "Be brave towards the timid," said she; "courage 
against the courageous is not safe. Beware how you 
expose yourself to danger and put my happiness to risk. 
Attack not the beasts that Nature has armed with weap- 
ons. I do not value your glory so high as to consent to 
purchase it by such exposure. Your youth, and the 
beauty that charms Venus, will not touch the hearts of 
lions and bristly boars. Think of their terrible claws 
and prodigious strength ! I hate the whole race of them. 
Do you ask me why?" Then she told him the story of 
Atalanta and Hippomenes, who were changed into lions 
for their ingratitude to her. 

Having given him this warning, she mounted her 
chariot drawn by swans, and drove away through the 
air. But Adonis was too noble to heed such counsels. 
The dogs had roused a wild boar from his lair, and the 
youth threw his spear and wounded the ^animal with a 
sidelong stroke. The beast drew out the weapon with 
his jaws, and rushed after Adonis, who turned and ran ; 
but the boar overtook him, and buried his tusks in his 
side, and stretched him dying upon the plain. 

Venus, in her swan-drawn chariot, had not yet 
reached Cyprus, when she heard coming up through mid- 
air the groans of her beloved, and turned her white- 
winged coursers back to earth. As she drew near and 
saw from on high his lifeless body bathed in blood, she 
alighted and, bending over it, beat her breast and tore 




APOLLO AND HYACINTHUS 



her hair. Reproaching the Fates, she said, "Yet theirs 
shall be but a partial triumph ; memorials of my 
grief shall endure, and the spectacle of your death, my 
Adonis, and of my lamentations shall be annually re- 
newed. Your blood shall be changed into a flower; that 
consolation none can envy me." Thus speaking, she 
sprinkled nectar on the blood; and as they mingled, 
bubbles rose as in a pool on which raindrops fall, and 
in an hour's time there sprang up a flower of bloody hue 
like that of the pomegranate. But it is short-lived. It 
is said the wind blows the blossoms open, and after- 
wards blows the petals away; so it is called Anemone, or 
Wind Flower, from the cause which assists equally in its 
production and its decay. 

Milton alludes to the story of Venus and Adonis in 
his "Comus" : 

"Beds of hyacinth and roses 
Where young Adonis oft reposes, 
Waxing well of his deep wound 
In slumber soft, and on the ground 
Sadly sits th' Assyrian queen;" etc. 



APOLLO AND HYACINTHUS 

Apollo was passionately fond of a youth named Hy- 
acinthus. He accompanied him in his sports, carried 
the nets when he went fishing, led the dogs when he 
went to hunt, followed him in his excursions in the 
mountains, and neglected for him his lyre and his ar- 
rows. One day they played a game of quoits together, 
and Apollo, heaving aloft the discus, with strength 
mingled with skill, sent it high and far. Hyacinthus 
watched it as it flew, and excited with the sport ran 
forward to seize it, eager to make his throw, when the 
quoit bounded from the earth and struck him in the 
forehead. He fainted and fell. The god, as pale as 
himself, raised him and tried all his art to stanch the 
wound and retain the flitting life, but all in vain; the 
hurt was past the power of medicine. As when one has 
broken the stem of a lily in the garden it hangs its head 



(^ STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

and turns its flowers to the earth, so the head of the 
dying boy, as if too heavy for his neck, fell over on his 
shoulder. "Thou diest. Hyacinth," so spoke Phoebus, 
"robbed of thy youth by me. Thine is the suffering, 
mine the crime. Would that I could die for thee ! But 
since that may not be, thou shalt live with me in memory 
and in song. My lyre shall celebrate thee, my song shall 
tell thy fate, and thou shalt become a flower inscribed 
^ith my regrets." While Apollo spoke, behold the 
"blood which had flowed on the ground and stained the 
herbage ceased to be blood; but a flower of hue more 
beautiful than the Tyrian sprang up, resembling the lily, 
if it were not that this is purple and that silvery white.^ 
And this was not enough for Phoebus ; but to confer 
still greater honor, he marked the petals with his sorrow, 
and inscribed "Ah ! ah !" upon them as we see to this 
day. The flower bears the name of Hyacinthus, and 
with every returning spring revives the memory of his- 
fate. 

It was said that Zephyrus (the West wind), who was 
also fond of Hyacinthus and jealous of his preference 
of Apollo, blew the quoit out of its course to make it 
strike Hyacinthus. Keats alludes to this in his "Endym- 
ion," where he describes the lookers-on at the game 
of quoits : 

"Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent 

On either side, pitying the sad death 

Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath 
Of Zephyr slew him; Zephyr penitent. 
Who now ere Phoebus mounts the firmament, 

Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain." 

An allusion to Hyacinthus will also be recognized 
in Milton's "Lycidas" : 

"Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe." 

* It is evidentlj; not our modern hyacinth that is here described. It is; 
perhaps some species of iris, or perhaps of larkspur or of pansy. 



CEYX AND HALCYONE 69 

CHAPTER IX 

CEYX AND HALCYONE : OR, THE HALCYON BIRDS 

Ceyx was king of Thessaly, where he reigned in peace, 
without violence or wrong. He was son of Hesperus, 
the Day-star, and the glow of his beauty reminded one 
of his father. Halcyone, the daughter of ^olus, was 
liis wife, and devotedly attached to him. Now Ceyx was 
in deep affliction for the loss of his brother, and direful 
prodigies following his brother's death made him feel as 
if the gods were hostile to him. He thought best, there- 
fore, to make a voyage to Carlos in Ionia, to consult the 
oracle of Apollo. But as soon as he disclosed his inten- 
tion to his wife Halcyone, a shudder ran through her 
frame, and her face grew deadly pale. "What fault of 
mine, dearest husband, has turned your affection from 
me ? Where is that love of me that used to be uppermost 
in your thoughts? Have you learned to feel easy in the 
absence of Halcyone? Would you rather have me 
away?" She also endeavored to discourage him, by de- 
scribing the violence of the winds, which she had known 
familiarly when she lived at home in her father's 
house, ^olus being the god of the winds, and having 
as much as he could do to restrain them. "They rush 
together," said she, "with such fury that fire flashes 
from the conflict. But if you must go," she added, 
"dear husband, let me go with you, otherwise I shall 
suffer not only the real evils which you must encounter, 
but those also which my fears suggest." 

These words weighed heavily on the mind of King 
Ceyx, and it was no less his own wish than hers to 
take her with him, but he could not bear to expose her 
to the dangers of the sea. He answered, therefore, con- 
soling her as well as he could, and finished with these 
words : "I promise, by the rays of my father the Day- 
star, that if fate permits I will return before the moon 
shall have twice rounded her orb." When he had thus 
spoken, he ordered tlie vessel to be drawn out of the 



70 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

shiphouse, and the oars and sails to be put aboard. 
When Halcyone saw these preparations she shuddered, 
as if with a presentiment of evil. With tears and sobs 
she said farewell, and then fell senseless to the ground. 

Ceyx would still have lingered, but now the young 
men grasped their oars and pulled vigorously through 
the waves, with long and measured strokes. Halcyone 
raised her streaming eyes, and saw her husband stand- 
ing on the deck, waving his hand to her. She answered 
his signal till the vessel had receded so far that she 
could no longer distinguish his form from the rest. 
When the vessel itself could no more be seen, she 
strained her eyes to catch the last glimmer of the sail, 
till that too disappeared. Then, retiring to her chamber, 
^fhe threw herself on her solitary couch. 

Meanwhile they glide out of the harbor, and the 
breeze plays among the ropes. The seamen draw in 
their oars, and hoist their sails. When half or less of 
their course was passed, as night drew on, the sea be- 
gan to whiten with swelling waves, and the east wind 
to blow a gale. The master gave the word to take in 
sail, but the storm forbade obedience, for such is the 
roar of the winds and waves his orders are unheard. 
The men, of their own accord, busy themselves to se- 
cure the oars, to strengthen the ship, to reef the sail. 
While they thus do what to each one seems best, the 
storm increases. The shouting of the men, the rattling 
of the shrouds, and the dashing of the waves, mingle 
with the roar of the thunder. The swelling sea seems 
lifted up to the heavens, to scatter its foam among the 
clouds ; then sinking away to the bottom assumes the 
color of the shoal a Stygian blackne^. 

The vessel shares all these changes. It seems like 
a wild beast that rushes on the spears of the hunters. 
Rain falls in torrents, as if the skies were coming down 
to unite with the sea. When the lightning ceases for 
a moment, the night seems to add its own darkness to 
that of the storm; then comes the flash, rending the 
darkness asunder, and lighting up all with a glare. Skill 
fails, courage sinks, and death seems to come on every 
wave. The men are stupefied with terror. The thought 



CEYX AND HALCYONE 71 

of parents, and kindred, and pledges left at home, comes 
over their minds. Ceyx thinks of Halcyone. No name 
but hers is on his lips, and while he yearns for her, 
he yet rejoices in her absence. Presently the mast is 
shattered by a stroke of lightning, the rudder broken, 
and the triumphant surge curling over looks down upon 
the wreck, then falls, and crushes it to fragments. Some 
of the seamen, stunned by the stroke, sink, and rise no 
more; others cling to fragments of the wreck. Ceyx, 
with the hand that used to grasp the sceptre, holds fast 
to a plank, calling for help, alas, in vain, upon his 
father and his father-in-law. But oftenest on his lips, 
was the name of Halcyone. To her his thoughts cling 
He prays that the waves may bear his body to her sight, 
and that it may receive burial at her hands. At length 
the waters overwhelm him, and he sinks. The Day- 
star looked dim that night. Since it could not leave 
the heavens, it shrouded its face with clouds. 

In the meanwhile Halcyone, ignorant of all these hor- 
rors, counted the days till her husband's promised re- 
turn. Now she gets ready the garments which he shall 
put on, and now what she shall wear when he arrives. 
To all the gods she offers frequent incense, but more 
than all to Juno. For her husband, who was no more, 
she prayed incessantly: that he might be safe; that he 
might come home ; that he might not, in his absence, 
see any one that he would love better than her. But 
of all these prayers, the last was the only one destined 
to be granted. The goddess, at length, could not bear 
any longer to be pleaded with for one already dead, 
and to have hands raised to her altars that ought rather 
to be offering funeral rites. So, calling Iris, she said, 
"Iris, my faithful messenger, go to the drowsy dwell- 
ing of Somnus, and tell him to send a vision to Halcy- 
one in the form of Ceyx, to make known to her the 
event." 

Iris puts on her robe of many colors, and tingeing 
the sky with her bow, seeks the palace of the King of 
Sleep. Near the Cimmerian country, a mountain cave 
is the abode of the dull god Somnus. Here Phoebus 
dares not come, either rising, at midday, or setting. 



72 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Clouds and shadows are exhaled from the ground, and 
the light glimmers faintly. The bird of dawning, with 
crested head, never there calls aloud to Aurora, nor 
watchful dog, nor more sagacious goose disturbs the 
silence. No wild beast, nor cattle, nor branch moved 
with the wind, nor sound of human conversation, breaks 
the stillness. Silence reigns there; but from the bottom 
of the rock the River Lethe flows, and by its murmur 
invites to sleep. Poppies grow abundantly before the 
door of the cave, and other herbs, from whose juices 
Night collects slumbers, which she scatters over the 
darkened earth. There is no gate to the mansion, to 
creak on its hinges, nor any watchman ; but in the midst 
a couch of black ebony, adorned with black plumes and 
black curtains. There the god reclines, his limbs re- 
laxed with sleep. Around him lie dreams, resembling 
all various forms, as many as the harvest bears stalks, 
or the forest leaves, or the seashore sand grains. 

As soon as the goddess entered and brushed away 
the dreams that hovered around her, her brightness lit 
up all the cave. The god, scarce opening his eyes, and 
ever and anon dropping his beard upon his breast, at 
last shook himself free from himself, and leaning on 
his arm, inquired her errand, for he knew who she was. 
She answered, "Somnus, gentlest of the gods, tranquil- 
lizer of minds and soother of care-worn hearts, Juno 
sends you her commands that you despatch a dream to 
Halcyone, in the city of Trachine, representing her lost 
husband and all the events of the wreck." 

Having delivered her message. Iris hasted away, for 
she could not longer endure the stag|:^ant air, and as 
she felt drowsiness creeping over her, .she made her 
escape, and returned by her bow the way she came. 
Then Somnus called one of his numerous sons, Mor- 
pheus, the most expert in counterfeiting forms, and 
in imitating the walk, the countenance, and mode of 
speaking, even the clothes and attitudes most charac- 
teristic of each. But he only imitates men, leaving it 
to another to personate birds, beasts, and serpents. Him 
they call Icelos ; and Phantasos is a third, who turns 
himself into rocks, waters, woods, and other things with- 



CEYX AND HALCYONE 7Z 

out life. These wait upon kings and great personages 
in their sleeping hours, while others move among the 
common people. Somnus chose, from all the brothers, 
Morpheus, to perform the command of Iris ; then laid 
his head on his pillow and yielded himself to grateful 
repose. 

Morpheus flew, making no noise with his wings, and 
soon came to the Haemonian city, where, laying aside his 
wings, he assumed the form of Ceyx. Under that form, 
but pale like a dead man, naked, he stood before the 
couch of the wretched wife. His beard seemed soaked 
with water, and water trickled from his drowned locks. 
Leaning over the bed, tears streaming from his eyes, he 
said, "Do you recognize your Ceyx, unhappy wife, or 
has death too much changed my visage? Behold me, 
know me, your husband's shade, instead of himself. 
Your prayers, Halcyone, availed me nothing. I am 
dead. No more deceive yourself with vain hopes of 
my return. The stormy winds sunk my ship in the 
M.g<f&.n Sea, waves filled my mouth while it called aloud 
on you. No uncertain messenger tells you this, no vague 
rumor brings it to your ears. I come in person, a 
shipwrecked man, to tell you my fate. Arise ! give me 
tears, give me lamentations, let me not go down to Tar- 
tarus unwept." To these words Morpheus added the 
voice, which seemed to be that of her husband ; he 
seemed to pour forth genuine tears ; his hands had the 
gestures of Ceyx. 

Halcyone, weeping, groaned, and stretched out her 
arms in her sleep, striving to embrace his body, but 
grasping only the air. "Stay!" she cried; "whither do 
you fly? let us go together." Her own voice awakened 
her. Starting up, she gazed eagerly around, to see if 
he was still present, for the servants, alarmed by her 
cries, had brought a light. When she found him not, 
she smote her breast and rent her garments. She cares 
not to unbind her hair, but tears it wildly. Her nurse 
asks what is the cause of her grief. "Halcyone is no 
more," she answers, "she perished with her Ceyx. Utter 
not words of comfort, he is shipwrecked and dead. I 
have seen him, I have recognized him. I stretched out 



74 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

my hands to seize him and detain him. His shade van- 
ished, but it was the true shade of my husband. Not 
with the accustomed features, not with the beauty that 
was his, but pale, naked, and with his hair wet with 
sea-water, he appeared to wretched me. Here, in this 
very spot, the sad vision stood," and she looked to find 
the mark of his footsteps. "This it was, this that my 
presaging mind foreboded, when I implored him not to 
leave me, to trust himself to the waves. Oh, how I 
wish, since thou wouldst go, thou hadst taken me with 
thee ! It would have been far better. Then I should 
have had no remnant of life to spend without thee, nor 
a separate death to die. If I could bear to live and 
struggle to endure, I should be more cruel to myself 
than the sea has been to me. But I will not struggle, I 
will not be separated from thee, unhappy husband. This 
time, at least, I will keep thee company. In death, if 
one tomb may not include us, one epitaph shall ; if I 
may not lay my ashes with thine, my name, at least, 
shall not be separated." Her grief forbade more words, 
and these were broken with tears and sobs. 

It was now morning. She went to the seashore, and 
sought the spot where she last saw him, on his departure. 
"While he lingered here, and cast off his tacklings, he 
gave me his last kiss." While she reviews every object, 
and strives to recall every incident, looking out over the 
sea, she descries an indistinct object floating in the water. 
At first she was in doubt what it was, but by degrees the 
waves bore it nearer, and it was plainly the body of a 
man. Though unknowing of whom, yet, as it was of 
some shipwrecked one, she was deeply /noved, and gave 
it her tears, saying, "Alas ! unhappy one, and unhappy, 
if such there be, thy wife 1" Borne by the waves, it 
came nearer. As she more and more nearly views it, 
she trembles more and more. Now, now it approaches 
the shore. Now marks that she recognizes appear. It 
is her husband ! Stretching out her trembling hands 
towards it, she exclaims, "O dearest husband, is it thus 
you return to me?" 

There was built out from the shore a mole, constructed 
to break the assaults of the sea, and stem its violent 



CEYX AND HALCYONE 75 

ingress. She leaped upon this barrier and (it was won- 
derful she could do so) she flew, and striking the air 
with wings produced on the instant, skimmed along the 
surface of the water, an unhappy bird. As she flew, 
her throat poured forth sounds full of grief, and like 
the voice of one lamenting. When she touched the mute 
and bloodless body, she enfolded its beloved limbs with 
her new-formed wings, and tried to give kisses with 
her horny beak. Whether Ceyx felt it, or whether it 
was only the action of the waves, those who looked on 
doubted, but the body seemed to raise its head. But 
indeed he did feel it, and by the pitying gods both of 
them were changed into birds. They mate and have 
their young ones. For seven placid days, in winter 
time, Halcyone broods over her nest, which floats upon 
the sea. Then the way is safe to seamen, ^olus guards 
the winds and keeps them from disturbing the deep. 
The sea is given up, for the time, to his grandchildren. 

The following lines from Byron's "Bride of Abydos" 
might seem borrowed from the concluding part of this 
description, if it were not stated that the author derived 
the suggestion from observing the motion of a floating 
corpse : 

"As shaken on his restless pillow, 
His head heaves with the heaving billow. 
That hand, whose motion is not life, 
Yet feebly seems to menace strife, 
Flung by the tossing tide on high, 
Then levelled with the wave . . ." 



Milton in his "Hymn on the Nativity," thus alludes 
to the fable of the Halcyon: 

"But peaceful was the night 
Wherein the Prince of light 

His reign of peace upon the earth began; 
The winds with wonder whist 
Smoothly the waters kist 

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean, 
Who now hath quite forgot to rave 
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave." 



76 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Keats, also, in "Endymion," says : 

"O magic sleep ! O comfortable bird 
That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind 
Till it is hushed and smooth." 



CHAPTER X 

VERTUMNUS AND POMONA 

The Hamadryads were Wood-nymphs. Pomona was 
of this class, and no one excelled her in love of the 
garden and the culture of fruit. She cared not for 
forests and rivers, but loved the cultivated country, and 
trees that bear delicious apples. Her right hand bore 
for its weapon not a javelin, but a pruning-knife. Armed 
with this, she busied herself at one time to repress the 
too luxuriant growths, and curtail the branches that 
straggled out of place; at another, to split the twig and 
insert therein a graft, making the branch adopt a nurs- 
ling not its own. She took care, too, that her favorites 
should not sufifer from drought, and led streams 
of water by them, that the thirsty roots might drink. 
This occupation was her pursuit, her passion ; and she 
was free from that which Venus inspires. She was- 
not without fear of the country people, and kept her 
orchard locked, and allowed not men to enter. The 
Fauns and Satyrs would have given all they possessed to 
win her, and so would old Sylvanus, who looks young 
for his years, and Pan, who wears a garland of pine 
leaves around his head. But Verturpfnus loved her best 
of all ; yet he sped no better than the rest. O how 
often, in the disguise of a reaper, did he bring her corn 
in a basket, and looked the very image of a reaper! 
With a hay band tied round him, one would think he 
had just come from turning over the grass. Sometimes, 
he would have an ox-goad in his hand, and you would 
have said he had just unyoked his weary oxen. Now 
he bore a pruning-hook, and personated a vine-dresser;; 



VERTUMNUS AND POMONA 77 

and again, with a ladder on his shoulder, he seemed 
as if he was going to gather apples. Sometimes he 
trudged along as a discharged soldier, and again he 
bore a fishing-rod, as if going to fish. In this way he 
gained admission to her again and again, and fed his 
passion with the sight of her. 

One day he came in the guise of an old woman, her 
gray hair surmounted with a cap, and a stafif in her 
hand. She entered the garden and admired the fruit. 
"It does you credit, my dear," she said, and kissed her, 
not exactly with an old woman's kiss. She sat down 
on a bank, and looked up at the branches laden with 
fruit which hung over her. Opposite was an elm en- 
twined with a vine loaded with swelling grapes. She 
praised the tree and its associated vine, equally. "But," 
said she, "if the tree stood alone, and had no vine cling- 
ing to it, it would have nothing to attract or offer us 
but its useless leaves. And equally the vine, if it were 
not twined round the elm, would lie prostrate on the 
ground. Why will you not take a lesson from the tree 
and the vine, and consent to unite yourself with some 
one? I wish you would. Helen herself had not more 
numerous suitors, nor Penelope, the wife of shrewd 
Ulysses. Even while you spurn them, they court you, 
rural deities and others of every kind that frequent 
these mountains. But if you are prudent and want to 
make a good alliance, and will let an old woman advise 
you, who loves you better than you have any idea of, 
dismiss all the rest and accept Vertumnus, on my 
recommendation. I know him as well as he knovv^s him- 
self. He is not a wandering deity, but belongs to these 
mountains. Nor is he like too many of the lovers now- 
adays, who love any ome they happen to see ; he loves 
you, and you only. Add to this, he is young and hand- 
some, and has the art of assuming any shape he pleases, 
and can make himself just what you command him. 
Moreover, he loves the same things that you do, de- 
lights in gardening, and handles your apples with ad- 
miration. But nozv he cares nothing for fruits nor 
flowers, nor anything else, but only yourself. Take pity 
on him, and fancy him speaking now with my mouth. 



78 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Remember that the gods punish cruelty, and that Venus 
hates a hard heart, and will visit such offences sooner 
or later. To prove this, let me tell you a story, which 
is well known in Cyprus to be a fact ; and I hope it 
will have the effect to make you more merciful. 

"Iphis was a young man of humble parentage, who 
saw and loved Anaxarete, a noble lady of the ancient 
family of Teucer. He struggled long with his passion, 
but when he found he could not subdue it, he came a 
suppliant to her mansion. First he told his passion to 
her nurse, a..d begged her as she loved her foster-child 
to favor his suit. And then he tried to win her do- 
mestics to his side. Sometimes he committed his vows 
to written tablets, and often hung at her door garlands 
which he had moistened with his tears. He stretched 
himself on her threshold, and uttered his complaints to 
the cruel bolts and bars. She was deafer than the 
surges which rise in the November gale ; harder than 
steel from the German forges, or a rock that still clings 
to its native cliff. She mocked and laughed at him, 
adding cruel words to her ungentle treatment, and gave 
not the slightest gleam of hope. 

'Tphis could not any longer endure the torments of 
hopeless love, and, standing before her doors, he spake 
these last words : 'Anaxarete, you have conquered, and 
shall no longer have to bear my importunities. Enjoy 
your triumph ! Sing songs of joy, and bind your fore- 
head with laurel, you have conquered ! I die ; stony 
heart, rejoice! This at least I can do to gratify you 
and force you to praise me ; and thus shall I prove 
that the love of you left me but with life. Nor will 
I leave it to rumor to tell you of /my death. I will 
come myself, and you shall see me/die, and feast your 
eyes on the spectacle. Yet, O ye gods, who look down 
on mortal woes, observe my fate ! I ask but this : let 
me be remembered in coming ages, and add those years 
to my fame which you have reft from my life.' Thus 
he said, and, turning his pale face and weeping eyes 
towards her mansion, he fastened a rope to the gate- 
post, on which he had often hung garlands, and putting 
his head into the noose, he murmured, 'This garland at 



VERTUMNUS AND POMONA 79 

least will please you, cruel girl !' and falling hung sus- 
pended with his neck broken. As he fell he struck 
against the gate, and the sound was as the sound of a 
groan. The servants opened the door and found him 
dead, and with exclamations of pity raised him and 
carried him home to his mother, for his father was 
not living. She received the dead hody of her son, and 
folded the cold form to her bosom, while she poured 
forth the sad words which bereaved mothers utter. The 
mournful funeral passed through the town, and the pale 
corpse was borne on a bier to the place of the funeral 
pile. By chance the home of Anaxarete was on the 
street where the procession passed, and the lamentations 
of the mourners met the ears of her whom the avenging 
deity had already marked for punishment. 

" 'Let us see this sad procession,' said she, and 
mounted to a turret, whence through an open window 
she looked upon the funeral. Scarce had her eyes rested 
upon the form of Iphis stretched on the bier, when 
they began to stiffen, and the warm blood in her body 
to become cold. Endeavoring to step back, she found 
she could not move her feet ; trying to turn away her 
face, she tried in vain ; and by degrees all her limbs 
became stony like her heart. That you may not doubt 
the fact, the statue still remains, and stands in the 
temple of Venus at Salamis, in the exact form of the 
lady. Now think of these things, my dear, and lay 
aside your scorn and your delays, and accept a lover. 
So may neither the vernal frosts blight your young 
fruits, nor furious winds scatter your blossoms !" 

When Vertumnus had spoken thus, he dropped the 
disguise of an old woman, and stood before her in his 
proper person, as a comely youth. It appeared to her 
like the sun bursting through a cloud. He would have 
renewed his entreaties, but there was no need ; his argu- 
ments and the sight of his true form prevailed, and 
the Nymph no longer resisted, but owned a mutual 
flame. 

Pomona was the especial patroness of the Apple- 
orchard, and as such she was invoked by Phillips, the 



80 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

author of a poem on Cider, in blank verse. Thomson 
in the "Seasons" alludes to him: 

"Phillips, Pomona's bard, the second thou 
Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfettered verse, 
With British freedom, sing the British song." 

But Pomona was also regarded as presiding over 
other fruits, and as such is invoked by Thomson: 

"Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves, 
To where the lemon and the piercing lime, 
With the deep orange, glowing through the green, 
Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclined 
Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes, 
Fanned by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit." 



CHAPTER XI 

CUPID AND PSYCHE 

A CERTAIN king and queen had three daughters. The 
charms of the two elder were more than common, but 
the beauty of the youngest was so wonderful that the 
poverty of language is unable to express its due praise. 
"The fame of her beauty was so great that strangers 
from neighboring countries came in crowds to enjoy 
the sight, and looked on her with amazement, paying her 
that homage which is due only to Venus herself. In 
fact Venus found her altars deserted, while men turned 
their devotion to this young virgin. As she passed 
i along, the people sang her praises, and strewed her way 
with chaplets and flowers. 

This perversion of homage due only to the immortal 
powers to the exaltation of a mortal gave great offence 
to the real Venus. Shaking her ambrosial locks with 
indignation, she exclaimed, "Am I then to be eclipsed 
in my honors by a mortal girl? In vain then did that 
royal shepherd, whose judgment was approved by Jove 
himself, give me the palm of beauty over my illustrious 




UJ 

o 
a. 



c 
o 
>-r> 

V 
R 

3 
03 

bo 

c 



E 
o 




THE PSYCHE OF CAPUA. 
From the sculpture of Praxiteles, 



CUPID AND PSYCHE 81 

rivals, Pallas and Juno. But she shall not so quietly 
usurp my honors. I will give her cause to repent of so 
unlawful a beauty." 

Thereupon she calls her winged son Cupid, mischiev- 
ous enough in his own nature, and rouses and provokes 
him yet more by her complaints. She points out Psyche 
to him and says, "My dear son, punish that contumacious 
beauty ; give thy mother a revenge as sweet as her in- 
juries are great; infuse into the bosom of that haughty 
girl a passion for some low, mean, unworthy being, so 
that she may reap a mortification as great as her present 
exultation and triumph." 

Cupid prepared to obey the commands of his mother.' 
There are two fountains in Venus's garden, one of 
sweet waters, the other of bitter. Cupid filled two am- 
ber vases, one from each fountain, and suspending them 
from the top of his quiver, hastened to the chamber 
of Psyche, whom he found asleep. He shed a few 
drops from the bitter fountain over her lips, though the 
sight of her almost moved him to pity ; then touched 
her side with the point of his arrow. At the touch 
she awoke, and opened eyes upon Cupid (himself in- 
visible), which so startled him that in his confusion 
he wounded himself v/ith his own arrow. Heedless of 
his wound, his whole thought now was to repair the 
mischief he had done, and he poured the balmy drops 
of joy over all her silken ringlets. 

Psyche, henceforth frowned upon by Venus, derived 
no benefit from all her charms. True, all eyes were 
cast eagerly upon her, and every mouth spoke her praises ; 
but neither king, royal youth, nor plebeian presented 
himself to demand her in marriage. Her two elder 
sisters of moderate charms had now long been married 
to two royal princes ; but Psyche, in her lonely apart- 
ment, deplored her solitude, sick of that beauty which, 
while it procured abundance of flattery, had failed to 
awaken love. 

Her parents, afraid that they had unwittingly incurred 
the anger of the gods, consulted the oracle of Apollo, 
and received this answer : "The virgin is destined for 
the bride of no mortal lover. Her future husband awaits 



82 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

her on the top of the mountain. He is a monster whom 
neither gods nor men can resist." 

This dreadful decree of the oracle filled all the people 
with dismay, and her parents abandoned themselves to 
grief. But Psyche said, "Why, my dear parents, do 
you now lament me? You should rather have grieved 
when the people showered upon me undeserved honors, 
and with one voice called me a Venus. I now perceive 
that I am a victim to that name. I submit. Lead me 
to that rock to which my unhappy fate has destined me." 
Accordingly, all things being prepared, the royal maid 
took her place in the procession, which more resembled 
a funeral than a nuptial pomp, and with her parents, 
amid the lamentations of the people, ascended the moun- 
tain, on the summit of which they left her alone, and 
with sorrowful hearts returned home. 

While Psyche stood on the ridge of the mountain, 
panting with fear and with eyes full of tears, the gentle 
Zephyr raised her from the earth and bore her with an 
easy motion into a flowery dale. By degrees her mind 
became composed, and she laid herself down on the 
grassy bank to sleep. When she awoke refreshed with 
sleep, she looked round and beheld near by a pleasant 
grove of tall and stately trees. She entered it, and in 
the midst discovered a fountain, sending forth clear and 
crystal waters, and fast by, a magnificent palace whose 
august front impressed the spectator that it was not the 
work of mortal hands, but the happy retreat of some 
god. Drawn by admiration and wonder, she approached 
the building and ventured to enter. Every object she 
met filled her with pleasure and amazement. Golden 
pillars supported the vaulted roof, and the walls were 
enriched with carvings and paintings representing beasts 
of the chase and rural scenes, adapted to delight the 
eye of the beholder. Proceeding onward, she perceived 
that besides the apartments of state there were others 
filled with all manner of treasures, and beautiful and 
precious productions of nature and art. 

While her eyes were thus occupied, a voice addressed 
her, though she saw no one, uttering these words : "Sov- 
ereign lady, all that you see is yours. We whose voices 



CUPID AND PSYCHE 83 

you hear are your servants and shall obey all your com- 
mands with our utmost care and diligence. Retire, 
therefore, to your chamber and repose on your bed of 
down, and when you see fit repair to the bath. Supper 
awaits you in the adjoining alcove when it pleases you 
to take your seat there." 

Psyche gave ear to the admonitions of her vocal at- 
tendants, and after repose and the refreshment of the 
bath, seated herself in the alcove, where a table imme- 
diately presented itself, without any visible aid from 
waiters or servants, and covered with the greatest deli- 
cacies of food and the most nectareous wines. Her ears 
too were feasted with music from invisible performers ; 
of whom one sang, another played on the lute, and all 
closed in the wonderful harmony of a full chorus. 

She had not yet seen her destined husband. He came 
only in the hours of darkness and fled before the dawn 
of morning, but his accents were full of love, and in- 
spired a like passion in her. She often begged him to 
stay and let her behold him, but he would not consent. 
On the contrary he charged her to make no attempt 
to see him, for it was his pleasure, for the best of rea- 
sons, to keep concealed. "Why should you wish to 
behold me?" he said; "have you any doubt of my love? 
have you any wish ungratified? If you saw me, per- 
haps you would fear me, perhaps adore me, but all I 
ask of you is to love me. I would rather you would 
love me as an equal than adore me as a god." 

This reasoning somewhat quieted Psyche for a time, 
and while the novelty lasted she felt quite happy. But 
at length the thought of her parents, left in ignorance 
of her fate, and of her sisters, precluded from sharing 
with her the delights of her situation, preyed on her 
mind and made her begin to feel her palace as but a 
splendid prison. When her husband came one night, 
she told him her distress, and at last drew from him an 
unwilling consent that her sisters should be brought to 
see her. 

So, calling Zephyr, she acquainted him with her hus- 
band's commands, and he, promptly obedient, soon 
brought them across the mountain down to their sis- 



84 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

ter's valley. They embraced her and she returned their 
caresses. "Come," said Psyche, "enter with me my 
house and refresh yourselves with whatever your sister 
has to offer." Then taking their hands she led them 
into her golden palace, and committed them to the care 
of her numerous train of attendant voices, to refresh 
them in her baths and at her table, and to show them 
all her treasures. The view of these celestial delights 
caused envy to enter their bosoms, at seeing their young 
sister possessed of such state and splendor, so much 
exceeding their own. 

They asked her numberless questions, among others 
what sort of a person her husband was. Psyche replied 
that he was a beautiful youth, who generally spent the 
daytime in hunting upon the mountains. The sisters, 
not satisfied with this reply, soon made her confess that 
she had never seen him. Then they proceeded to fill her 
bosom with dark suspicions. "Call to mind," they said, 
"the Pythian oracle that declared you destined to marry 
a direful and tremendous monster. The inhabitants of 
this valley say that your husband is a terrible and mon- 
strous serpent, who nourishes you for a while with 
dainties that he may by and by devour you. Take our 
advice. Provide yourself with a lamp and a sharp knife; 
put them in concealment that your husband may not 
discover them, and when he is sound asleep, slip out of 
bed, bring forth your lamp, and see for yourself whether 
what they say is true or not. If it is, hesitate not to 
cut off the monster's head, and thereby recover your 
liberty." 

Psyche resisted these persuasions as well as she could, 
but they did not fail to have their effect on her mind, and 
when her sisters were gone, their words and her own 
curiosity were too strong for her to resist. So she 
prepared her lamp and a sharp knife, and hid them out 
of sight of her husband. When he had fallen into his 
first sleep, she silently rose and uncovering her lamp be- 
held not a hideous monster, but the most beautiful and 
charming of the gods, with his golden ringlets wandering 
over his snowy neck and crimson cheek, with two dewy 
wings on his shoulders, whiter than snow, and with 



CUPID AND PSYCHE 85 

shining feathers like the tender blossoms of spring. As 
she leaned the lamp over to have a nearer view of his 
face a drop of burning oil fell on the shoulder of the 
god, startled with which he opened his eyes and fixed 
them full upon her ; then, without saying one word, he 
spread his white wings and flew out of the window. 
Psyche, in v^.in endeavoring to follow him, fell from 
the window to the ground. Cupid, beholding her as she 
lay in the dust, stopped his flight for an instant and 
said, "O foolish Psyche, is it thus you repay my love? 
After having disobeyed my mother's commands and 
made you my wife, will you think me a monster and 
cut off my head ? But go ; return to your sisters, whose 
advice you seem to think preferable to mine. I inflict 
no other punishment on you than to leave you forever. 
Love cannot dwell with suspicion." So saying, he fled 
away, leaving poor Psyche prostrate on the ground, fill- 
ing the place with mournful lamentations. 

When she had recovered some degree of composure 
she looked around her, but the palace and gardens had 
vanished, and she found herself in the open field not 
far from the city where her sisters dwelt. She repaired 
thither and told them the whole story of her misfor- 
tunes, at which, pretending to grieve, those spiteful 
creatures inwardly rejoiced. "For now," said they, "he 
will perhaps choose one of us." With this idea, with- 
out saying a word of her intentions, each of them rose 
early the next morning and ascended the mountains, and 
having reached the top, called upon Zephyr to receive 
her and bear her to his lord ; then leaping up, and not 
being sustained by Zephyr, fell down the precipice and 
was dashed to pieces. 

Psyche meanwhile wandered day and night, without 
food or repose, in search of her husband. Casting her 
eyes on a lofty mountain having on its brow a mag- 
nificent temple, she sighed and said to herself, "Per- 
haps my love, my lord, inhabits there," and directed her 
steps thither. 

She had no sooner entered than she saw heaps of 
corn, some in loose ears and some in sheaves, with 
mingled ears of barley. Scattered about, lay sickles and 



86 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

rakes, and all the instruments of harvest, without order, 
as if thrown carelessly out of the weary reapers' hands 
in the sultry hours of the day. 

This unseemly confusion the pious Psyche put an end 
to, by separating and sorting everything to its proper 
place and kind, believing that she ought to neglect none 
of the gods, but endeavor by her piety to engage them 
all in her behalf. The holy Ceres, whose temple it was, 
finding her so religiously employed, thus spoke to her: 
"O Psyche, truly worthy of our pity, though I cannot 
shield you from the frowns of Venus, yet I can teach 
you how best to allay her displeasure. Go, then, and 
voluntarily surrender yourself to your lady and sov- 
ereign, and try by modesty and submission to win her 
forgiveness, and perhaps her favor will restore you the 
husband you have lost." 

Psyche obeyed the commands of Ceres and took her 
way to the temple of Venus, endeavoring to fortify her 
mind and ruminating on what she should say and how 
best propitiate the angry goddess, feeling that the issue 
was doubtful and perhaps fatal. 

Venus received her with angry countenance. "Most 
undutiful and faithless of servants," said she, "do you 
at last remember that you really have a mistress? Or 
have you rather come to see your sick husband, yet laid 
up of the wound given him by his loving wife? You are- 
so ill-favored and disagreeable that the only way you 
can merit your lover must be by dint of industry and 
diligence. I will make trial of your housewifery." Then 
she ordered Psyche to be led to the storehouse of her 
temple,' where was laid up a great quantity of wheat, 
barley, millet, vetches, beans, and lentils prepared for 
food for her pigeons, and said, "Ta^e and separate all 
these grains, putting all of the same kind in a parcel 
by themselves, and see that you get it done before even- 
ing." Then Venus departed and left her to her task. 

But Psyche, in a perfect consternation at the enor- 
mous work, sat stupid and silent, without moving a fin- 
ger to the inextricable heap. 

While she sat despairing, Cupid stirred up the little 
ant, a native of the fields, to take compassion on her. 



CUPID AND PSYCHE 87 

The leader of the ant hill, followed by whole hosts of 
his six-legged subjects, approached the heap, and with 
the utmost diligence, taking grain by grain, they sep- 
arated the pile, sorting each kind to its parcel; and 
when it was all done, they vanished out of sight in a 
moment. 

Venus at the approach of twilight returned from the 
banquet of the gods, breathing odors and crowned with 
roses. Seeing the task done, she exclaimed, "This is 
no work of yours, wicked one, but his, whom to your 
own and his misfortune you have enticed." So saying, 
she threw her a piece of black bread for her supper and 
went away. 

Next morning Venus ordered Psyche to be called 
and said to her, "Behold yonder grove which stretches 
along the margin of the water. There you will find 
sheep feeding without a shepherd, with golden-shining 
fleeces on their backs. Go, fetch me a sample of that 
precious wool gathered from every one of their fleeces." 

Psyche obediently went to the riverside, prepared to 
do her best to execute the command. But the river god 
inspired the reeds with harmonious murmurs, which 
seemed to say, "O maiden, severely tried, tempt not the 
dangerous flood, nor venture among the formidable 
rams on the other side, for as long as they are under 
the influence of the rising sun, they burn with a cruel 
rage to destroy mortals with their sharp horns or rude 
teeth. But when the noontide sun has driven the cattle 
to the shade, and the serene spirit of the flood has lulled 
them to rest, you may then cross in safety, and you will 
find the woolly gold sticking to the bushes and the 
trunks of the trees." 

Thus the compassionate river god gave Psyche in- 
structions how to accomplish her task, and by observ- 
ing his directions she soon returned to Venus with her 
arms full of the golden fleece; but she received not 
the approbation of her implacable mistress, who said, 
"I know very well it is by none of your own doings 
that you have succeeded in this task, and I am not 
satisfied yet that you have any capacity to make your- 
self useful. But I have another task for you. Here, 



88 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

take this box and go your way to the infernal shades, 
and give this box to Proserpine and say, 'My mistress 
Venus desires you to send her a little of your beauty, 
for in tending her sick son she has lost some of her 
own.' Be not too long on your errand, for I must paint 
myself with it to appear at the circle of the gods and 
goddesses this evening." 

Psyche was now satisfied that her destruction was at 
hand, being obliged to go with her own feet directly 
down to Erebus. Wherefore, to make no delay of what 
was not to be avoided, she goes to the top of a high 
tower to precipitate herself headlong, thus to descend 
the shortest way to the shades below. But a voice from 
the tower said to her, "Why, poor unlucky girl, dost 
thou design to put an end to thy days in so dreadful a 
manner? And what cowardice makes thee sink under 
this last danger who hast been so miraculously sup- 
ported in all thy former?" Then the voice told her how 
by a certain cave she might reach the realms of Pluto, 
and how to avoid all the dangers of the road, to pass 
by Cerberus, the three-headed dog, and prevail on 
Charon, the ferryman, to take her across the black river 
and bring her back again. But the voice added, "When 
Proserpine has given you the box filled with her beauty, 
of all things this is chiefly to be observed by you, that 
you never once open or look into the box nor allow your 
curiosity to pry into the treasure of the beauty of the 
goddesses." 

Psyche, encouraged by this advice, obeyed it in all 
things, and taking heed to her ways travelled safely to 
the kingdom of Pluto. She was admitted to the palace 
of Proserpine, and without accepting the delicate seat 
or delicious banquet that was offered /^ler, but contented 
with coarse bread for her food, she delivered her mes- 
sage from Venus. Presently the box was returned to 
her, shut and filled with the precious commodity. Then 
she returned the way she came, and glad was she to 
come out once more into the light of day. 

But having got so far successfully through her dan- 
gerous task, a longing desire seized her to examine the 
contents of the box. "What," said she, "shall I, the 



CUPID AND PSYCHE . 89 

carrier of this divine beauty, not take the least bit to 
put on my cheeks to appear to more advantage in the 
eyes of my beloved husband !" So she carefully opened 
the box, but found nothing there of any beauty at all, 
but an infernal and truly Stygian sleep, which being 
thus set free from its prison, took possession of her, 
and she fell down in the midst of the road, a sleepy 
corpse without sense or motion. 

But Cupid, being now recovered from his wound, and 
not able longer to bear the absence of his beloved 
Psyche, slipping through the smallest crack of the win- 
dow of his chamber which happened to be left open, 
flew to the spot where Psyche lay, and gathering up the 
sleep from her body closed it again in the box, and 
waked Psyche with a light touch of one of his arrows. 
"Again," said he, "hast thou almost perished by the 
same curiosity. But now perform exactly the task im- 
posed on you by my mother, and I will take care of the 
rest." 

Then Cupid, as swift as lightning penetrating the 
heights of heaven, presented himself before Jupiter with 
his supplication. Jupiter lent a favoring ear, and plead- 
ed the cause of the lovers so earnestly with Venus that 
he won her consent. On this he sent Mercury to bring 
Psyche up to the heavenly assembly, and when she ar- 
rived, handing her a cup of ambrosia, he said, "Drink 
this. Psyche, and be immortal ; nor shall Cupid ever 
break away from the knot in which he is tied, but these 
nuptials shall be perpetual." 

Thus Psyche became at last united to Cupid, and in 
due time they had a daughter bom to them whose name 
was Pleasure. 

The fable of Cupid and Psyche is usually considered 
allegorical. The Greek name for a butterfly is Psyche, 
and the same word means the soul. There is no illus- 
tration of the immortality of the soul so striking and 
beautiful as the butterfly, bursting on brilliant wings 
from the tomb in which it has lain, after a dull, grovel- 
ling, caterpillar existence, to flutter in the blaze of day 
and feed on the most fragrant and delicate productions 



90 -STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

of the spring-. Psyche, then, is the human soul, which 
is purified by sufferings and misfortunes, and is thus 
prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happi- 
ness. 

In works of art Psyche is represented as a maiden 
with the wings of a butterfly, along with Cupid, in the 
different situations described in the allegory. 

Milton alludes to the story of Cupid and Psyche in 
the conclusion of his "Comus" : 

"Celestial Cupid, her famed son, advanced, 
Holds his dear Psyche sweet entranced, 
After her wandering labors long, 
Till free consent the gods among 
Make her his eternal bride; 
And from her fair unspotted side 
Two blissful twins are to be born, 
Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn." 

The allegory of the story of Cupid and Psyche is well 
presented in the beautiful lines of T. K. Harvey: 

"They wove bright fables in the days of old, 

When reason borrowed fancy's painted wings; 
When truth's clear river flowed o'er sands of gold, 

And told in song its high and mystic things ! 
And such the sweet and solemn tale of her 

The pilgrim heart, to whom a dream was given, 
That led her through the world, Love's worshipper, 

To seek on earth for him whose home was heaven ! 

"In the full city, by the haunted fount, 

Through the dim grotto's tracery of spars, 
'Mid the pine temples, on the moonlit mount. 

Where silence sits to listen to the stars; 
In the deep glade where dwells the brooding dove, 

The painted valley, and the scented Air, 
She heard far echoes of the voice of Love, 

And found his footsteps' traces everywhere. 

"But nevermore they met ! since doubts and fears, 
Those phantom shapes that haunt and blight the earth. 

Had come 'twixt her, a child of sin and tears, 
And that bright spirit of immortal birth; 

Until her pining soul and weeping eyes 

Had learned to seek him only in the skies; 

Till wings unto the weary heart were given, 

And she became Love's angel bride in heaven!" 



CADMUS 91 

The story of Cupid and Psyche first appears in the 
works of Apuleius, a writer of the second century of 
our era. It is therefore of much more recent date than 
most of the legends of the Age of Fable. It is this 
that Keats alludes to in his "Ode to Psyche": 

"O latest born and loveliest vision far 

Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy! 
Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-regioned star 

Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky; 
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none, 

Nor altar heaped with flowers ; 
Nor virgin choir to make dehcious moan 

Upon the midnight hours; 
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet, 

From chain-swung censor teeming; 
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat 
Of pale-mouthed prophet dreaming." 

In Moore's "Summer Fete" a fancy ball is described, 
in which one of the characters personated is Psyche 

"... not in dark disguise to-night 
Hath our young heroine veiled her light; 
For see, she walks the earth. Love's own. 

His wedded bride, by holiest vow 
Pledged in Olympus, and made known 

To mortals by the type which now 

Hangs glittering on her snowy brow. 
That butterfly, mysterious trinket. 
Which means the soul, (though few would think it,) 
And sparkling thus on brow so white 
Tells us we've Psyche here to-night." 



CHAPTER XII 

CADMUS THE MYRMIDONS 

Jupiter, under the disguise of a bull, had carried 
away Europa, the daughter of Agenor, king of Phoe- 
nicia. Agenor commanded his son Cadmus to go in 
search of his sister, and not to return without her. 
Cadmus went and sought long and far for his sister, 



92 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

but could not find her, and not daring to return un- 
successful, consulted the oracle of Apollo to know 
what country he should settle in. The oracle informed 
him that he should find a cow in the field, and should 
follow her wherever she might wander, and where she 
stopped, should build a city and call it Thebes. Cad- 
mus had hardly left the Castalian cave, from which 
the oracle was delivered, when he saw a young cow 
slowly walking before him. He followed her close, of- 
fering at the same time his prayers to Phoebus. The 
cow went on till she passed the shallow channel of 
Cephisus and came out into the plain of Panope. There 
she stood still, and raising her broad forehead to the 
sky, filled the air with her lowings. Cadmus gave 
thanks, and stooping down kissed the foreign soil, then 
lifting his eyes, greeted the surrounding mountains. 
Wishing to ofifer a sacrifice to Jupiter, he sent his serv- 
ants to seek pure water for a libation. Near by there 
stood an ancient grove which had never been profaned 
Ly the axe, in the midst of which was a cave, thick cov- 
ered with the growth of bushes, its roof forming a low 
arch, from beneath which burst forth a fountain of 
purest water. In the cave lurked a horrid serpent with 
a crested head and scales glittering like gold. His eyes 
shone like fire, his body was swollen with venom, he 
vibrated a triple tongue, and showed a triple row of 
teeth. No sooner had the Tyrians dipped their pitchers 
in the fountain, and the in-gushing waters made a sound,^ 
than the glittering serpent raised his head out of the^ 
cave and uttered a fearful hiss. The vessels fell from 
their hands, the blood left their cheeks, they trembled 
in every limb. The serpent, twisting his scaly body 
in a huge coil, raised his head so as/o overtop the tall- 
est trees, and while the Tyrians from terror could 
neither fight nor fly, slew some with his fangs, others 
in his folds, and others with his poisonous breath. 

Cadmus, having waited for the return of his men 
till midday, went in search of them. His covering was 
a lion's hide, and besides his javelin he carried in his 
hand a lance, and in his breast a bold heart, a surer 
reliance than either. When he entered the wood, and 



CADMUS 93 

saw the lifeless bodies of his men, and the monster with 
his bloody jaws, he exclaimed, "O faithful friends, I 
will avenge you, or share your death." So saying he 
lifted a huge stone and threw it with all his force at 
the serpent. Such' a block would have shaken the wall 
of a fortress, but it made no impression on the monster. 
Cadmus next threw his javelin, which met with better 
success, for it penetrated the serpent's scales, and pierced 
through to his entrails. Fierce with pain, the monster 
turned back his head to view the wound, and attempted 
to draw out the weapon with his mouth, but broke it off, 
leaving the iron point rankling in his flesh. His neck 
swelled with rage, bloody foam covered his jaws, and 
the breath of his nostrils poisoned the air around. Now 
he twisted himself into a circle, then stretched himself 
out on the ground like the tnmk of a fallen tree. As 
he moved onward, Cadmus retreated before him, hold- 
ing his spear opposite to the monster's opened jaws. 
The serpent snapped at the weapon and attempted to 
bite its iron point. At last Cadmus, watching his chance, 
thrust the spear at a moment when the animal's head 
thrown back came against the trunk of a tree, and so 
succeeded in pinning him to its side. His weight bent 
the tree as he struggled in the agonies of death. 

While Cadmus stood over his conquered foe, contem- 
plating its vast size, a voice was heard (from whence 
he knew not, but he heard it distinctly) commanding 
him to take the dragon's teeth and sow them in the 
earth. He obeyed. He made a furrow in the ground, 
and planted the teeth, destined to produce a crop of 
men. Scarce had he done so when the clods began to 
move, and the points of spears to appear above the sur- 
face. Next helmets with tiieir nodding plumes came 
up, and next the shoulders and breasts and limbs of men 
with weapons, and in time a harvest of armed warriors. 
Cadmus, alarmed, prepared to encounter a new enemy, 
but one of them said to him, "Meddle not with our 
civil war." With that he who had spoken smote one 
of his earth-born brothers with a sword, and he himself 
fell pierced with an arrow from another. The latter 
fell victim to a fourth, and in like manner the whole 



94 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

crowd dealt with each other till all fell, slain with mu- 
tual wounds, except five survivors. One of these cast 
away his weapons and said, "Brothers, let us live in 
peace!" These five joined with Cadmus in building his 
city, to which they gave the name of Thebes. 

Cadmus obtained in marriage Harmonia, the daughter 
of Venus. The gods left Olympus to honor the occa- 
sion with their presence, and Vulcan presented the bride 
with a necklace of surpassing brilliancy, his own work- 
manship. But a fatality hung over the family of Cad- 
mus in consequence of his killing the serpent sacred to 
Mars. Semele and Ino, his daughters, and Actseon and 
Pentheus, his grandchildren, all perished unhappily, and 
Cadmus and Harmonia quitted Thebes, now grown 
odious to them, and emigrated to the country of the 
Enchelians, who received them with honor and made 
Cadmus their king. But the misfortunes of their chil- 
dren still weighed upon their minds ; and one day Cad- 
mus exclaimed, 'Tf a serpent's life is so dear to the 
gods, I would I were myself a serpent." No sooner 
had he uttered the words than he began to change his 
form. Harmonia beheld it and prayed to the gods to 
let her share his fate. Both became serpents. They 
live in the woods, but mindful of their origin, they neither 
avoid the presence of man nor do they ever injure any 
one. 

There is a tradition that Cadmus introduced into 
Greece the letters of the alphabet which were invented 
by the Phoenicians. This is alluded to by Byron, where, 
addressing the modern Greeks, he says : 

"You have the letters Cadmus gave, 
Think you he meant them for / slave?" 

Milton, describing the serpent which tempted Eve, 
is reminded of the serpents of the classical stories and 
says: 

. . . " pleasing was his shape, 
And lovely : never since of serpent kind 
Lovelier; not those that in Illyria changed 
Hermione and Cadmus, nor the god 
In Epidaurus." 



THE MYRMIDONS 95 

For an explanation of the last allusion, see Oracle 
of ^sculapius, p. 298. 

THE MYRMIDONS 

The Myrmidons were the soldiers of Achilles, in the 
Trojan war. From them all zealous and unscrupulous 
followers of a political chief are called by that name, 
down to this day. But the origin of the Myrmidons 
would not give one the idea of a fierce and bloody race, 
but rather of a laborious and peaceful one. 

Cephalus, king of Athens, arrived in the island of 
^gina to seek assistance of his old friend and ally 
/Eacus, the kirg, in his war with Minos, king of Crete. 
Cephalus was most kindly received, and the desired as- 
sistance readily promised. "I have people enough," said 
^F'acus, "to protect myself and spare you such a force 
as you need." "I rejoice to see it," replied Cephalus, 
"and my wonder has been raised, I confess, to find 
such a host of youths as I see around me, all apparently 
of about the same age. Yet there are many individuals 
whom I previously knew, that I look for now in vain. 
What has become of them?" Ziacus groaned, and re- 
plied with a voice of sadness, "I have been intending 
to tell you, and will now do so, without more delay, 
that you may see how from the saddest beginning a 
happy result sometimes flows. Those whom you for- 
merly knew are now dust and ashes ! A plague sent 
by angry Juno devastated the land. She hated it be- 
cause it bore the name of one of her husband's female 
favorites. While the disease appeared to spring from 
natural causes we resisted it, as we best might, by nat- 
ural remedies ; but it soon appeared that the pestilence 
was too powerful for our efforts, and we yielded. At 
the beginning the sky seemed to settle down upon the 
earth, and thick clouds shut in the heated air. For four 
months together a deadly south wind prevailed. The 
disorder affected the wells and springs : thousands of 
snakes crept over the land and shed their poison in 
the fountains. The force of the disease was first spent 
on the lower animals dogs, cattle, sheep, and birds. 
The luckless ploughman wondered to see his oxen fall 



96 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

in the midst of their work, and lie helpless in the un- 
finished furrow. The wool fell from the bleating sheep, 
and their bodies pined away. The horse, once foremost 
in the race, contested the palm no more, but groaned 
at his stall and died an inglorious death. The wild 
boar forgot his rage, the stag his swiftness, the bears 
no longer attacked the herds. Everything languished; 
dead bodies lay in the roads, the fields, and the woods; 
the air was poisoned by them. I tell you what is hardly 
credible, but neither dogs nor birds would touch them, 
nor starving wolves. Their decay spread the infection. 
Next the disease attacked the country people, and then 
the dwellers in the city. At first the cheek was flushed, 
and the breath drawn with difficulty. The tongue grew 
rough and swelled, and the dry mouth stood open with 
its veins enlarged and gasped for the air. Men could 
not bear the heat of their clothes or their beds, but 
preferred to lie on the bare ground; and the ground 
did not cool them, but, on the contrary, they heated the 
spot where they lay. Nor could the physicians help, 
for the disease attacked them also, and the contact of 
the sick gave them infection, so that the most faithful 
were the first victims. At last all hope of relief van- 
ished, and men learned to look upon death as the only 
deliverer from disease. Then they gave way to every 
inclination, and cared not to ask what was expedient, 
for nothing was expedient. All restraint laid aside, they 
crowded around the wells and fountains and drank till 
they died, without quenching thirst. Many had not 
strength to get away from the water, but died in the 
midst of the stream, and others would drink of it not- 
withstanding. Such was their weariness of their sick 
beds that some would creep forth, ^d if not strong 
enough to stand, Avould die on the ground. Thev 
seemed to hate their friends, and got away from their 
homes, as if. not knowing the cause of their sickness, 
they charged it on the place of their abode. Some were 
seen tottering along the road, as long as they could stand, 
while others sank on the earth, and turned their dying 
eyes around to take a last look, then closed them in 
death. 



THE MYRMIDONS 97 

"What heart had I left me, during all this, or what 
ought I to have had, except to hate life and wish to 
be with my dead subjects? On all sides lay my people 
strewn like over-ripened apples beneath the tree, or 
acorns under the storm-shaken oak. You see yonder 
a temple on the height. It is sacred to Jupiter. O how 
many ottered prayers there, husbands for wives, fathers 
for sons, and died in the very act of supplication ! How 
often, while the priest made ready for sacrifice, the vic- 
tim fell, struck down by disease without waiting for 
the blow ! At length all reverence for sacred things was 
lost. Bodies were thrown out unburied, wood was 
wanting for funeral piles, men fought with one another 
for the possession of them. Finally there v/ere none left 
to mourn ; sons and husbands, old men and youths, per- 
ished alike unlamented. 

"Standing before the altar I raised my eyes to heaven. 
'O Jupiter,' I said, 'if thou art indeed my father, and 
art not ashamed of thy offspring, give me back my 
people, or take me also away !' At these words a clap 
of thunder was heard. 'I accept the omen,' I cried; 
'O may it be a sign of a favorable disposition towards 
me!' By chance there grew by the place where I stood 
an oak with wide-spreading' branches, sacred to Jupiter. 
I observed a troop of ants Imsy with their labor, carry- 
ing minute grains in their mouths and following one 
another in a line up the trunk of the tree. Observing 
their numbers with admiration, I said, 'Give me, O 
father, citizens as numerous as these, and replenish my 
empty city.' The tree shook and gave a rustling sound 
with its branches, though no wind agitated them. I 
trembled in every limb, yet I kissed the earth and the 
tree. I would not confess to myself that I hoped, yet 
I did hope. Night came on and sleep took possession 
of my frame oppressed with cares. The tree stood be- 
fore me in my dreams, with its numerous branches all 
covered with living, moving creatures. It seemed to 
shake its limbs and throw down over the ground a mul- 
titude of those industrious grain-gathering animals, 
which appeared to gain in size, and grow larger and 
larger, and by and by to stand erect, lay aside their 



98 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

superfluous legs and their black color, and finally to 
assume the human form. Then I awoke, and my first 
impulse was to chide the gods who had robbed me of 
a sweet vision and given me no reality in its place. 
Being still in the temple, my attention was caught by 
the sound of many voices without; a sound of late un- 
usual to my ears. While I began to think I was yet 
dreaming, Telamon, my son, throwing open the temple 
gates, exclaimed : 'Father, approach, and behold things 
surpassing even your hopes !' I went forth ; I saw a 
multitude of men, such as I had seen in my dream, and 
they were passing in procession in the same manner. 
While I gazed with wonder and delight they approached 
and kneeling hailed me as their king. I paid my vows 
to Jove, and proceeded to allot the vacant city to the 
new-born race, and to parcel out the fields among them. 
I called them Myrmidons, from the ant (myrmxcx) from 
which they sprang. You have seen these persons ; their 
dispositions resemble those which they had in their for- 
mer shape. They are a diligent and industrious race, 
eager to gain, and tenacious of their gains. Among 
them you may recruit your forces. They will follow 
you to the war, young in years and bold in heart." 

This description of the plague is copied by Ovid from 
the account which Thucydides, the Greek historian, gives 
of the plague of Athens. The historian drew from 
life, and all the poets and writers of fiction since his 
day, when they have had occasion to describe a simi- 
lar scene, have borrowed their details from him. 



CHAPTER Xnp^ 

NISUS AND SCYLLA ECHO AND NARCISSUS CLYTIE 
HERO AND LEANDER 

NISUS AND SCYLLA 

MiNos, king of Crete, made war upon Megara. Nisus 
was king of Megara, and Scylla was his daughter. The 



NISUS AND SCYLLA 99 

siege had now lasted six months and the city still held 
out, for it was decreed by fate that it should not be 
taken so long as a certain purple lock, which glittered 
among the hair of King Nisus, remained on his head. 
There was a tower on the city walls, which overlooked 
the plain where Minos and his army were encamped. 
To this tower Scylla used to repair, and look abroad 
over the tents of the hostile army. The siege had lasted 
so long that she had learned to distinguish the persons 
of the leaders. Minos, in particular, exci<"ed her ad- 
miration. Arrayed in his helmet, and bearing his shield, 
she admired his graceful deportment; if he threw his 
javelin skill seemed combined with force in the dis- 
charge; if he drew his bow Apollo himself could not 
have done it more gracefully. But when he laid aside 
his helmet, and in his purple robes bestrode his white 
horse with its gay caparisons, and reined in its foam- 
ing mouth, the daughter of Nisus was hardly mistress 
of herself; she was almost frantic with admiration. 
She envied the weapon that he grasped, the reins that 
he held. She felt as if she could, if it were possible, 
go to him through the hostile ranks ; she felt an im- 
pulse to cast herself down from the tower into the midst 
of his camp, or to open the gates to him. or to do any- 
thing else, so only it might gratify Minos. As she sat 
In the tower, she talked thus with herself : 'T know 
not whether to rejoice or grieve at this sad war. I 
grieve that Minos is our enemy; but I rejoice at any 
cause that brings him to my sight. Perhaps he would 
be willing to grant us peace, and receive me as a 
hostage. I would fly down, if I could, and alight in 
his camp, and tell him that we yield ourselves to his 
mercy. But then, to betray my fatlier! No! rather 
would I never see Minos again. y\nd yet no doubt it 
is sometimes the best thing for a city to be conquered, 
when the conqueror is clement and generous. Minos 
certainly has right on his side. I think we shall be 
conquered; and if that must be the end of it, why 
should not love unbar the gates to him, instead of 
Iea\ing it to be done by war? Better spare delay and 
slaughter if we can. And O if any one should wound 



100 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

or kill Minos ! No one surely would have the heart 
to do it; yet ignorantly, not knowing him, one might. 
I will, I will surrender myself to him, with my coun- 
try as a dowry, and so put an end to the war. But 
how? The gates are guarded, and my father keeps 
the keys ; he only stands in my way. O that it might 
please the gods to take him away ! But why ask the 
gods to do it? Another woman, loving as I do, would 
remove with her own hands whatever stood in the way 
of her love. And can any other woman dare more 
than I? I would encounter fire and sword to gain 
my object; but here there is no need of fire and sword. 
I only need my father's purple lock. More precious 
than gold to me, that will give me all I wish." 

While she thus reasoned night came on, and soon 
the whole palace was buried in sleep. She entered 
her father's bedchamber and cut off the fatal lock; 
then passed out of the city and entered the enemy's 
camp. She demanded to be led to the king, and thus 
addressed him : 'T am Scylla, the daughter of Nisus. 
I surrender to you my country and my father's house. 
I ask no reward but yourself; for love of you I have 
done it. See here the purple lock ! With this I give 
you my father and his kingdom." She held out her 
hand with the fatal spoil. Minos shrunk back and re- 
fused to touch it. "The gods destroy thee, infamous 
woman," he exclaimed ; "disgrace of our time ! May 
neither earth nor sea yield thee a resting-place ! Surely, 
my Crete, where Jove himself was cradled, shall not 
be polluted with such a monster!" Thus he said, and 
gave orders that equitable terms should be allowed to 
the conquered city, and that the fleet should immediately 
sail from the island. / 

Scylla was frantic. "Ungrateful man," she exclaimed, 
"is it thus you leave me? me who have given you 
victory, who have sacrificed for you parent and coun- 
try ! I am guilty, I confess, and deserve to die, but 
not by your hand." As the ships left the shore, she 
leaped into the water, and seizing the rudder of the 
one which carried Minos, she was borne along an un- 
welcome companion of their course. A sea-eagle soar- 



ECHO AND NARCISSUS 101 

ing aloft, it was her father who had been changed 
into that form, seeing her, pounced down upon her, 
and struck her with his beak and claws. In terror 
she let go the ship and would have fallen into the 
water, but some pitying deity changed her into a bird. 
The sea-eagle still cherishes the old animosity; and 
whenever he espies her in his lofty flight you may see 
him dart down upon her, with beak and claws, to take 
vengeance for the ancient crime. 

ECHO AND NARCISSUS 

Echo was a beautiful nymph, fond of the woods and 
hills, where she devoted herself to woodland sports. 
She was a favorite of Diana, and attended her in the 
chase. But Echo had one failing; she was fond of 
talking, and whether in chat or argument, would have 
the last word. One day Juno was seeking her husband, 
who, she had reason to fear, was amusing himself 
among the nymphs. Echo by her talk contrived to de- 
tain the goddess till the nymphs made their escape. 
When Juno discovered it, she passed sentence upon Echo 
in these words : "You shall forfeit the use of that 
tongue with which you have cheated me, except for 
that one purpose you are so fond of reply. You 
shall still have the last word, but no power to speak 
first." 

This nymph saw Narcissus, a beautiful youth, as he 
pursued the chase upon the mountains. She loved him 
and followed his footsteps. O how she longed to ad- 
dress him in the softest accents, and win him to con- 
verse ! but it was not in her power. She waited with 
impatience for him to speak first, and had her answer 
ready. One day the youth, being separated from his 
companions, shouted aloud, "Who's here?" Echo re- 
plied, "Here." Narcissus looked around, but seeing no 
one called out, "Come." Echo answered, "Come." As 
no one came. Narcissus called again, "Why do you 
shun me?" Echo asked the same question. "Let us 
join one another," said the youth. The maid an- 
swered with all her heart in the same words, and hast- 



102 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

ened to the spot, ready to throw her arms about his 
neck. He started back, exclaiming, "Hands off! I 
would rather die than you should have me !" "Have 
me," said she; but it was all in vain. He left her, 
and she went to hide her blushes in the recesses of 
the woods. From that time forth she lived in caves 
and among mountain cliffs. Her form faded with grief, 
till at last all her flesh shrank away. Her bones were 
changed into rocks and there was nothing left of her 
but her voice. With that she is still ready to reply to 
any one who calls her, and keeps up her old habit of 
having the last word. 

Narcissus's cruelty in this case was not the only in- 
stance. He shunned all the rest of the nymphs, as 
he had done poor Echo. One day a maiden who had 
in vain endeavored to attract him uttered a prayer that 
he might some tim.e or other feel what it was to love 
and meet no return of affection. The avenging god- 
dess heard and granted the prayer. 

There was a clear fountain, with water like silver, 
to which the shepherds never drove their flocks, nor 
the mountain goats resorted, nor any of the beasts of 
the forest; neither was it defaced with fallen leaves or 
branches; but the grass grew fresh around it, and the 
rocks sheltered it from the sun. Hither came one day 
the youth, fatigued with hunting, heated and thirsty. 
He stooped down to drink, and saw his own image 
in the water; he thought it was some beautiful water- 
spirit living in the fountain. He stood gazing with 
admiration at those bright eyes, those locks curled like 
the locks of Bacchus or Apollo, the rounded cheeks, 
the ivory neck, the parted lips, and the glow of health 
and exercise over all. He fell in Xove with himself. 
He brought his lips near to take a kiss; he plunged his 
arms in to embrace the beloved object. It fled at the 
touch, but returned again after a moment and renewed 
the fascination. He could not tear himself away; he 
lost all thought of food or rest, while he hovered over 
the brink of the fountain gazing upon his own image. 
He talked with the supposed spirit : "Why, beautiful 
being, do you shun me? Surely my face is not one 



ECHO AND NARCISSUS 103 

ro repel you. The nymphs love me, and you your- 
self look not indifferent upon me. When I stretch 
forth my arms you do the same ; and you smile upon 
me and answer my beckonings with the like." His tears 
fell into the water and disturbed the image. As he 
saw it depart, he exclaimed, "Stay, I entreat you ! Let 
me at least gaze upon you, if I may not touch you." 
With this, and much more of the same kind, he cher- 
ished the flame that consumed him, so that by degrees 
he lost his color, his vigor, and the beauty which for- 
merly had so charmed the nymph Echo. She kept near 
him, however, and when he exclaimed, "Alas ! alas !" 
she answered him with the same words. He pined 
away and died; and when his shade passed the Stygian 
river, it leaned over the boat to catch a look of itself 
in the waters. The nymphs mourned for him, espe- 
cially the water-nymphs; and when they smote their 
breasts Echo smote hers also. They prepared a funeral 
pile and would have burned the body, but it was no- 
where to be found; but in its place a flower, purple 
within, and surrounded witli white leaves, which bears 
the name and preserves the memory of Narcissus. 

Milton alludes to the story of Echo and Narcissus in 
the Lady's song in "Comus." She is seeking her 
brothers in the forest, and sings to attract their at- 
tention : 

"Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen 
Within thy aery shell 
By slow Meander's margent green, 
And in the violet-embroidered vale, 

Where the love-lorn nightingale 
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; 
Canst thou Jiot tell me of a gentle pair 
That likcst thy Narcissus are? 

O, if thou have 
Hid them in some flowery cave, 
Tell me but where, 
Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere, 
So may'st thou be translated to the skies, 
And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies." 

Milton has imitated the story of Narcissus in the 
account which he makes Eve give of the first sight 
of herself reflected in the fountain: 



104 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

"That day I oft remember when from sleep 
I first awaked, and found myself reposed 
Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where 
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how. 
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound 
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread 
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved 
Pure as the expanse of heaven ; I thither went 
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down 
On the green bank, to look into the clear 
Smooth lake tliat to me seemed another sky. 
As I bent down to look, just opposite 
A shape within the watery gleam appeared, 
Bending to look on me. I started back; 
It started back; but pleased I soon returned, 
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks 
Of sympathy and love. There had I fixed 
Mine eyes till now, and pined wi vain desire. 
Had not a voice thus warned me : 'What thou seest, 
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself ;' " etc. 

Paradise Lost, Book IV. 

No one of the fables of antiquity has been oftener 
alluded to by the poets than that of Narcissus. Here 
are two epigrams which treat it in different ways. The 
first is by Goldsmith : 

"On a Beautiful Youth, struck Blind by Lightning 

"Sure 'twas by Providence designed, 
Rather in pity than in hate, 
That he should be like Cupid blind. 
To save him from Narcissus' fate." 

The other is by Cowper: 

"On an Ugly Fellow 

"Beware, my friend, of crys;t4l brook 
Or fountain, lest that hideous hook, 

Thy nose, thou chance to see_; 
Narcissus' fate would then be thine, 
And self-detested thou would'st pine, 

As self-enamoured he." 

CLYTIE 

Clytie was a water-nymph and in love with Apollo, 
who made her no return. So she pined away, sitting 



HERO AND LEANDER 105 

all day long upon the cold ground, with her unbound 
tresses streaming over her shoulders. Nine days she 
sat and tasted neither food nor drink, her own tears 
and the chilly dew her only food. She gazed on the 
sun when he rose, and as he passed through his daily 
course to his setting; she saw no other object, her face 
turned constantly on him. At last, they say, her limbs 
rooted in the ground, her face became a flower^ which 
*urns on its stem so as always to face the sun through- 
out its daily course ; for it retains to that extent the 
feeling of the nymph from whom it sprang. 

Hood, in his "Flowers," thus alludes to Clytie: 

"I will not have the mad Clytie, 

Whose head is turned by the sun; 
The tulip is a courtly quean, 

Whom therefore I will shun ; 
The cowslip is a country wench, 

The violet is a nun ; 
But I will woo the dainty rose, 

The queen of every one." 

The sunflower is a favorite emblem of constancy. 
Thus Moore uses it : 

"The heart that has truly loved never forgets, 

But as truly loves on to the close ; 
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets 
The same look that she turned when he rose." 

HERO AND LEANDER 

Leander was a youth of Abydos, a town of the 
Asian side of the strait which separates Asia and Eu- 
rope. On the opposite shore, in the town of Sestos, 
lived the maiden Hero, a priestess of Venus. Leander 
loved her, and used to swim the strait nightly to enjoy 
the company of his mistress, guided by a torch which 
she reared upon the tower for the purpose. But one 
night a tempest arose aijd the sea was rough ; his 
strength failed, and he was drowned. The waves bore 
his body to the European shore, where Hero became 

^ The sunflower. 



106 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

aware of his death, and in her despair cast herself 
down from the tower into the sea and perished. 

The following sonnet is by Keats: 

"On a Picture of Leander 

"Come hither all sweet maidens soberly, 

Down looking aye, and with a chasten'd light 
Hid in the fringes of your eyelids white, 

And meekly let your fair hands joined be. 

As if so gentle that ye could not see, 

Untouch'd. a victim of your beauty bright, 
Sinking away to his young spirit's night. 

Sinking bewilder'd 'mid the dreary sea. 

'T is young Leander toiling to his death. 

Nigh swooning he doth purse his weary lips 

For Hero's cheek, and smiles against her smile. 
O horrid dream! see how his body dips 

Dead-heavy; ar-.is and shoulders gleam awhile; 

He's gone; up bubbles all his amorous breath!" 

The story of Leander's sv/imming the Hellespont was 
looked upon as fabulous, and the feat considered 
impossible, till Lord Byron proved its possibility by 
performing it himself. In the "Bride of Abydos" he 
says, 

"These limbs that buoyant wave hath borne." 

The distance in the narrowest part is almost a mile, 
and there is a constant current setting out from the 
Sea of Marmora into the Archipelago. Since Byron's 
time the feat has been achieved by others ; but it yet 
remains a test of strength and skill in the art of swim- 
ming sufficient to give a wide and lasting celebrity to 
any one of our readers who may dare to make the at- 
tempt and succeed in accomplishing it. 

In the beginning of the second canto of the same poem, 
Byron thus alludes to this story : 

"The winds are high on Helle's wave, 
As on that night of stormiest water. 
When Love, who sent, forgot to save 
The young, the beautiful, the brave. 
The lonely hope of Sestos' daughter. 



MINERVA 107 

O, when alone along the sky 

The turret-torch was blazing high. 

Though rising gale and breaking foam, 

And shrieking sea-birds warned him home; 

And clouds aloft and tides below, 

With signs and sounds forbade to go, 

He could not see, he would not hear 

Or sound or sight foreboding fear. 

His eye but saw that light of love, 

The only star it hailed above; 

His ear but rang with Hero's song, 

'Ye waves, divide not lovers long.' 

That tale is old, but love anew 

May nerve young hearts to prove as true." 



CHAPTER XIV 

MINERVA NIOBE 

MINERVA 

Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, was the daughter 
of Jupiter. She was said to have leaped forth from 
his brain, mature, and in complete armor. She presided 
over the useful and ornamental arts, both those of men 
such as agriculture and navigation and those of 
women, spinning, weaving, and needlework. She was 
also a warlike divinity; but it was defensive war only 
that she patronized, and she had no sympathy with 
Mars's savage love of violence and bloodshed. Athens 
was her chosen seat, her own city, awarded to her as the 
prize of a contest with Neptune, who also aspired to 
it. The tale ran that in the reign of Cecrops, the first 
king of Athens, the two deities contended for the pos- 
session of the city. The gods decreed that it should 
be awarded to that one who produced the gift most 
Useful to mortals. Neptune gave the horse; Minerva 
produced the olive. The gods gave judgment that the 
olive was the more useful of the two, and awarded the 
city to the goddess ; and it was named after her, Athens, 
her name in Greek being Athene. 

There was another contest, in which a mortal dared 



108 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

to come in competition with Minerva. That mortal was 
Arachne, a maiden who had attained such skill in the 
arts of weaving and embroidery that the nymphs them- 
selves would leave their groves and fountains to come 
and gaze upon her work. It was not only beautiful 
when it was done, but beautiful also in the doing. To 
watch her, as she took the wool in its rude state and 
formed it into rolls, or separated it with her fingers 
and carded it till it looked as light and soft as a cloud, 
or twirled the spindle with skilful touch, or wove the 
web, or, after it was woven, adorned it with her needle, 
one would have said that Minerva herself had taught 
her. But this she denied, and could not bear to be 
thought a pupil even of a goddess. "Let Minerva try 
her skill with mine," said she; "if beaten I will pay the 
penalty." Minerva heard this and was displeased. She 
assumed the form of an old woman and went and gave 
Arachne some friendly advice. "I have had much ex- 
perience," said she, "and I hope you will not despise 
my counsel. Challenge your fellow-mortals as you will, 
but do not compete with a goddess. On the contrary, 
I advise you to ask her forgiveness for what you have 
said, and as she is merciful perhaps she will pardon 
you." Arachne stopped her spinning and looked at the 
old dame with anger in her countenance. "Keep your 
counsel," said she, "for your daugliters or handmaids ; 
for my part I know what I say, and I stand to it. I 
am not afraid of the goddess; let her try her skill, 
if she dare venture." "She comes," said Minerva; ani 
dropping her disguise stood confessed. The nymphs 
bent low in homage, and all the bystanders paid rever- 
ence. Arachne alone was unterrified./ She blushed, in- 
deed ; a sudden color dyed her cheek, and then she grew 
pale. But she stood to her resolve, and with a foolish 
conceit of her own skill rushed on her fate. Minerva 
forbore no longer nor interposed any further advice. 
They proceed to the contest. Each takes her station 
and attaches the web to the beam. Then the slender 
shuttle is passed in and out among the threads. The 
reed with its fine teeth, strikes up the woof into its 
place and compacts the web. Both work with speed; 



MINERVA 109 

their skilful hands move rapidly, and the excitement of 
the contest makes the labor light. Wool of Tyrian dye 
is contrasted with that of other colors, shaded off into 
one another so adroitly that the joinino^ deceives the eye. 
Like the bow, whose long arch tinges the heavens, formed 
by sunbeams reflected from the shower,^ in which, where 
the colors meet they seem as one, but at a little dis- 
tance from the point of contact are wholly different. 

Minerva wrought on her web the scene of her con- 
test with Neptune. Twelve .of the heavenly powers are 
represented, Jupiter, with august gravity, sitting in the 
midst. Neptune, the ruler of the sea, holds his trident, 
and appears to have just smitten the earth, from which 
a horse has leaped forth. Minerva depicted herself 
with helmed head, her ^gis covering her breast. Such 
was the central circle ; and in the four corners were rep- 
resented incidents illustrating the displeasure of the gods 
at such presumptuous mortals as had dared to contend 
with them. These were meant as warnings to her rival 
to give up the contest before it was too late. 

Arachne filled her web with subjects designedly 
chosen to exhibit the failings and errors of the gods. 
One scene represented Leda caressing the swan, under 
which form Jupiter had disguised himself; and another, 
Danae, in the brazen tower in which her father had 
imprisoned her, but where the god effected his entrance 
in the form of a golden shower. Still another depicted 
Europa deceived by Jupiter under the disguise of a 
bull. Encouraged by the tameness of the animal Europa 
Ventured to mount his back, whereupon Jupiter ad- 
vanced into the sea and swam with her to Crete. You 
would have thought it was a real bull, so naturally was 
it wrought, and so natural the water in which it swam. 
She seemed to look with longing eyes back upon the 
shore she was leaving, and to call to her companions for 
help. She appeared to shudder with terror at the sight 
of the heaving waves, and to draw back her feet from 
the water. 

Arachne filled her canvas with similar subjects, won- 

^ This correct description of the rainbow is literally translated from 
Ovid. 



110 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

derfully well done, but strongly marking her presump- 
tion and impiety. Minerva could not forbear to admire, 
yet felt indignant at the insult. She struck the web with 
her shuttle and rent it in pieces; she then touched the 
forehead of Arachne and made her feel her guilt and 
shame. She could not endure it and went and hanged 
herself. Minerva pitied her as she saw her suspended 
by a rope. "Live," she said, "guilty woman ! and that 
you may preserve the memory of this lesson, continue 
to hang, both you and your descendants, to all future 
times." She sprinkled her with the juices of aconite, 
and immediately her hair came off, and her nose and 
ears likewise. Her form shrank up, and her head grew 
smaller yet; her fingers cleaved to her side and served 
for legs. All the rest of her is body, out of which she 
spins her thread, often hanging suspended by it, in the 
same attitude as when Minerva touched her and trans- 
formed her into a spider. 

Spenser tells the story of Arachne in his "Muiopot* 
mos," adhering very closely to his master Ovid, but 
improving upon him in the conclusion of the story. 
The two stanzas which follow tell what was done after 
the goddess had depicted her creation of the olive tree: 

"Amongst these leaves she made a Butterfly, 
With excellent device and wondrous slight, 
Fluttering among the olives vv^antonly, 
That seemed to live, so like it was in sight; 
The velvet nap which on his wings doth lie, 
The silken down with which his back is dight, 
His broad outstretched horns, his hairy thighs, 
His glorious colors, and his glistening eyes."^ 

"Which when Arachne saw, as overlaid 
And njastered with workmanship so rare, 
She stood astonied long, ne aught gainsaid; 
And with fast-fixed eyes on her did stare, 
And by her silence, sign of one dismayed, 
The victory did yield her as her share: 
Yet did she inly fret and felly burn, 
And all her blood to poisonous rancor turn." 

* Sir James Mackintosh says of this, "Do you think that even a Chinese 
could paint the gay colors of a butterfly with more minute exactness than 
the following lines: 'The velvet nap,' etc.?" Life, Vol. II.. 246. 



NIOBE 111 

And so the metamorphosis is caused by Arachne's own 
mortification and vexation, and not by any direct act 
of the goddess. 

The following specimen of old-fashioned gallantry is 
by Garrick : 

"Upon a Lady's Embroidery 

"Arachne once, as poets tell, 
A goddess at her art defied, 
And soon the daring mortal fell 
The hapless victim of her pride. 

"O, then beware Arachne's fate; 

Be prudent, Chloe, and submit. 
For you'll most surely meet her hate. 
Who rival both her art and wit." 

Tennyson, in his "Palace of Art," describing the 
works of art with which the palace was adorned, thus 
alludes to Europa : 

". . . sweet Europa's mantle blew unclasped 
From off her shoulder, backward borne. 
From one hand drooped a crocus, one hand grasped 
The mild bull's golden horn." 

In his "Princess" there is this allusion to Danae: 

"Now lies the earth all Danae to the stars, 
And all thy heart lies open unto me." 

NIOBE 

The fate of Arachne was noised abroad through all 
the country, and served as a warning to all presump- 
tuous mortals not to compare themselves with the divini- 
ties. But one, and she a matron too, failed to learn 
the lesson of humility. It was Niobe, the queen of 
Thebes. She had indeed much to be proud of ; but it 
was not her husband's fame, nor her own beauty, nor 
their great descent, nor the power of their kingdom that 
elated her. It was her children ; and truly the happiest 
of mothers would Niobe have been if only she had not 
claimed to be so. It was on occasion of the annual cele- 



112 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

bration in honor of Latona and her offspring, Apollo 
and Diana, when the people of Thebes were assem- 
bled, their brows crowned with laurel, bearing frankin- 
cense to the altars and paying their vows, that Niobe 
appeared among the crowd. Her attire was splendid with 
gold and gems, and her aspect beautiful as the face of 
an angry woman can be. She stood and surveyed the 
people with haughty looks. "What folly," said she, "is 
this ! to prefer beings whom you never saw to those 
who stand before your eyes ! Why should Latona be 
honored with worship, and none be paid to me? My 
father was Tantalus, who was received as a guest at the 
table of the gods ; my mother was a goddess. My hus- 
band built and rules this city, Thebes, and Phrygia is 
my paternal inheritance. Wherever I turn my eyes I 
survey the elements of my power; nor is my form and 
presence unworthy of a goddess. To all this let me add 
I have seven sons and seven daughters, and look for 
sons-in-law and daughters-in-law of pretensions worthy 
of my alliance. Have I not cause for pride? Will you 
prefer to me this Latona, the Titan's daughter, with 
her two children? I have seven times as m,any. For- 
tunate indeed am I, and fortunate I shall remain ! Will 
any one deny this? My abundance is my security. I 
feel myself too strong for Fortune to subdue. She may 
take from me much; I shall still have much left. Were 
I to lose some of my children, I should hardly be left 
as poor as Latona with her two only. Away with you 
from these solemnities, put off the laurel from your 
brows, have done with this worship !" The people 
obeyed, and left the sacred services uncompleted. 

The goddess was indignant. On the Cynthian moun- 
tain top where she dwelt she thus addressed her son and 
daughter: "My children, I who have been so proud of 
you both, and have been used to hold myself second 
to none of the goddesses except Juno alone, begin now 
to doubt whether I am indeed a goddess. I shall be de- 
prived of my worship altogether unless you protect me." 
She was proceeding in this strain, but ,ApQll interrupted 
her. "Say no more/' said he; "speech only delays pun- 
ishment." So said Diana also. Darting through the air, 



NIOBE 113 

veiled in clouds, they alighted on the towers of the city. 
Spread out before the gates was a broad plain, where 
the youth of the city pursued their warlike sports. The 
sons of Niobe were there with the rest, some mounted 
on spirited horses richly caparisoned, some driving gay 
chariots. Ismenos, the first-born, as he guided his foam- 
ing steeds, struck with an arrow from above, cried out, 
"Ah me !" dropped the reins, and fell lifeless. Another, 
hearing the sound of the bow, like a boatman who sees 
the storm gathering and makes all sail for the port, 
gave the reins to his horses and attempted to escape. 
The inevitable arrow overtook him as he fled. Two 
others, younger boys, just from their tasks, had gone to 
the playground to have a game of wrestling. As they 
stood breast to breast, one arrow pierced them both. 
They uttered a cry together, together cast a parting look 
around them, and together breathed their last. Al- 
phenor, an elder brother, seeing them fall, hastened to 
the spot to render assistance, and fell stricken in the 
act of brotherly duty. One only was left, Ilioneus. He 
raised his arms to heaven to try whether prayer might 
not avail. "Spare me, ye gods!" he cried, addressing 
all, in his ignorance that all needed not his intercessions ; 
and Apollo would have spared him, but the arrow had 
already left the string, and it was too late. 

The terror of the people and grief of the attendants 
soon made Niobe acquainted with what had taken place. 
She could hardly think it possible; she was indignant 
that the gods had dared and amazed that they had been 
able to do it. Her husband, Amphion, overwhelmed 
with the blow, destroyed himself. Alas ! how different 
was this Niobe from her who had so lately driven away 
the people from the sacred rites, and held her stately 
course through the city, the envy of her friends, now 
the pity even of her foes! She knelt over the lifeless 
bodies, and kissed now one, now another of her dead 
sons. Raising her pallid arms to heaven, "Cruel La- 
tona," said she, "feed full your rage with my anguish! 
Satiate your hard heart, while I follow to the grave my 
seven sons. Yet where is your triumph? Bereaved as 
J. am, I am still richer than you, my conqueror." Scarce 



114 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

had she spoken, when the bow sounded and struck ter- 
ror into all hearts except Niobe's alone. She was brave 
from excess of grief. The sisters stood in garments 
of mourning over the biers of their dead brothers. One 
fell, struck by an arrow, and died on the corpse she 
was bewailing. Another, attempting to console her 
mother, suddenly ceased to speak, and sank lifeless to 
the earth. A third tried to escape by flight, a fourth by 
concealment, another stood trembling, uncertain what 
course to take. Six were now dead, and only one re- 
mained, whom the mother held clasped in her arms, and 
covered as it were with her whole body. "Spare me 
one, and that the youngest! O spare me one of so 
many!" she cried; and while she spoke, that one fell 
dead. Desolate she sat, among sons, daughters, hus- 
band, all dead, and seemed torpid with grief. The 
breeze moved not her hair, no color was on her cheek, 
her eyes glared fixed and immovable, there was no sign 
of life about her. Her very tongue cleaved to the roof 
of her mouth, and her veins ceased to convey the tide 
of life. Her neck bent not, her arms made no gesture, 
her foot no step. She was changed to stone, within and 
without. Yet tears continued to flow; and borne on a 
whirlwind to her native mountain, she still remains, a 
mass of rock, from which a trickling stream flows, the 
tribute of her never-ending grief. 

The story of Nicbe has furnished Byron with a fine 
illustration of the fallen condition of modern Rome: 

"The Niobe of nations! there she stands, 
Childless and crownless in her voiceless woe; 
An empty urn within her withered hands, 
Whose holy dust was scattered long ago ; 
The Scipios' tomb contains no ashes now : 
The very sepulchres lie tenantless 
Of their heroic dwellers; dost thou flow, 
Old Tiber! through a marble wilderness? 
Rise with thy yellow waves, and mantle her distress." 

Childe Harold, IV. 79. 

This affecting story has been made the subject of a 
celebrated statue in the imperial gallery of Florence. It 



THE GR^^ AND THE GORGONS 115 

is the principal figure of a group supposed to have been 
originally arranged in the pediment of a temple. The 
figure of the mother clasped by the arm of her terrified 
child is one of the most admired of the ancient statues. 
It ranks with the Laocoon and the Apollo among the 
masterpieces of art. The following is a translation of 
a Greek epigram supposed to relate to this statue : 

"To stone the gods have changed her. but in vain; 
The sculptor's art has made her breathe again." 

Tragic as is the story of Niobe, we cannot forbear 
to smile at the use Moore has made of it in "Rhymes 
on the Road" : 

" 'Twas in his carriage the sublime 
Sir Richard Blackmore used to rhyme, 
And, if the wits don't do him wrong, 
'Twixt death and epics passed his time, 
ScribbHng and killing all day long; 

Like Phoebus in his car at ease, 
Now warbling forth a lofty song, 
Now murdering the young Niobes." 

Sir Richard Blackmore was a physician, and at the 
same time a very prolific and very tasteless poet, whose 
works are now forgotten, unless when recalled to mind 
by some wit like Moore for the sake of a joke. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE GR^^ OR GRAY-MAIDS PERSEUS MEDUSA 

ATLAS A N DRO M ED A 

THE GR.EyE AND THE GORGONS 

The Grsece were three sisters who were gray-haired 
from their birth, whence their name. The Gorgons were 
monstrous females with huge teeth like those of swine, 
brazen claws, and snaky hair. None of these beings 



116 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

make much figure in mythology except Medusa, the Gor- 
gon, whose story we shall next advert to. We mention 
them chiefly to introduce an ingenious theory of some 
modern writers, namely, that the Gorgons and Grseas 
were only personifications of the terrors of the sea, 
the former denoting the strong billows of the wide open 
main, and the latter the z;/i7^(?-c rested waves that dash 
against the rocks of the coast. Their names in Greek 
signify the above epithets. 

PERSEUS AND MEDUSA 

Perseus was the son of Jupiter and Danae. His grand- 
father Acrisius, alarmed by an oracle which had told 
.him that his daughter's child would be the instrument of 
his death, caused the mother and child to be shut up in 
a chest and set adrift on the sea. The chest floated 
towards Seriphus, where it was found by a fisherman 
wdio conveyed the mother and infant to Polydectes, the 
king of the country, by whom they were treated with 
kindness. When Perseus was grown up Polydectes sent 
him to attempt the conquest of Medusa, a terrible mon- 
ster who had laid wai;te the country. She was once 
a beautiful maiden whose hair was her chief glory, but 
as she dared to vie in beauty with Minerva, the goddess 
deprived her of her charms and changed her beautiful 
ringlets into hissing serpents. She became a cruel mon- 
ster of so frightful an aspect that no living thing could 
behold her without being turned into stone. All around 
the cavern where she dwelt might be seen the stony 
figures of men and animals which had chanced to catch 
a glimpse of her and had been petrifi/d with the sight. 
Perseus, favored by Minerva and Mercury, the former 
of whom lent him her shield and the latter his winged 
shoes, approached Medusa while she slept, and taking 
care not to look directly at her, but guided by her image 
reflected in the bright shield which he bore, he cut ofif 
her head and gave it to Minerva, who fixed it in the 
middle of her ^gis. 

Milton, in his "Comus," thus alludes to the ^gis: 



PERSEUS AND ATLAS 117 

"What was that snaky-headed Gorgon-shield 
That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin, 
Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone, 
But rigid looks of chaste austerity, 
And noble grace that dashed brute violence 
With sudden adoration and blank awe!" 

Armstrong, the poet of the "Art of Preserving 
Heahh," thus describes the eft'ect of frost upon the 
waters : 

"Now blows the surly North and chills throughout 
The stiffening regions, while by stronger charms 
Than Circe e'er or fell Medea brewed, 
Each brook that wont to prattle to its banks 
Lies all bestilled and wedged betwixt its banks, 
Nor moves the withered reeds . . . 
The surges baited by the fierce North-east, 
Tossing with fretful spleen their angry heads. 
E'en in the foam of all their madness struck 
To monumental ice. 

Such execution, 
So stem, so sudden, wrought the grisly aspect 
Of terrible Medusa, 

When wandering through the woods she turned to stone 
Their savage tenants; just as the foaming Lion 
Sprang furious on his prey, her speedier power 
Outran his haste. 

And fixed in that fierce attitude he stands 
Like Rage in marble !" 

Imitations of Shakspeare. 



PERSEUS AND ATLAS 

After the slaughter of Medusa, Perseus, bearing with 
him the head of the Gorgon, flew far and wide, over 
land and sea. As night came on, he reached the western 
limit of the earth, where the sun goes down. Here he- 
would gladly have rested till morning. It was the realm; 
of King Atlas, whose bulk surpassed that of all other 
men. He was rich in flocks and herds and had no 
neighbor or rival to dispute his state. But his chief 
pride was in his gardens, whose fruit was of gofd, hang- 
ing from golden branches, half hid with golden leaves. 
Perseus said to him, "I come as a guest. If you honor 
illustrious descent, I claim Jupiter for my father; if. 



118 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

mighty deeds, I plead the conquest of the Gorgon. I 
seek rest and food." But Atlas remembered that an an- 
cient prophecy had warned him that a son of Jove should 
one day rob him of his golden apples. So he answered, 
"Begone ! or neither your false claims of glory nor par- 
entage shall protect you;" and he attempted to thrust 
him out. Perseus, finding the giant too strong for him, 
said, "Since you value my friendship so little, deign to 
accept a present;" and turning his face away, he held 
up the Gorgon's head. Atlas, with all his bulk, was 
changed into stone. His beard and hair became forests, 
his arms and shoulders cliffs, his head a summit, and 
his bones rocks. Each part increased in bulk till he be- 
came a mountain, and (such was the pleasure of the 
gods) heaven with all its stars rests upon his shoulders. 

THE SEA- MONSTER 

Perseus, continuing his flight, arrived at the country 
of the Ethiopians, of which Cepheus was king. Cas- 
siopeia his queen, proud of her beauty, had dared to 
compare herself to the Sea-Nymphs, which roused their 
indignation to such a degree that they sent a prodigious 
sea-monster to ravage the coast. To appease the deities, 
Cepheus was directed by the oracle to expose his 
daughter Andromeda to be devoured by the monster. 
As Perseus looked down from his aerial height he beheld 
the virgin chained to a rock, and waiting the approach of 
the serpent. She was so pale and motionless that if it 
had not been for her flowing tears and her hair that 
moved in the breeze, he would have taken her for a 
marble statue. He was so startled at the sight that he al- 
most forgot to wave his wings. As he hovered over her 
he said, "O virgin, undeserving of those chains, but 
rather of such as bind fond lovers together, tell me, I 
beseech you, your name, and the name of your country, 
and why you are thus bound." At first she was silent 
from modesty, and, if she could, would have hid her 
face with her hands ; but when he repeated his questions, 
for fear she might be thought guilty of some fault which 
she dared not tell, she disclosed her name and that of 



THE SEA-MONSTER 119 

her country, and her mother's pride of beauty. Before 
she had done speaking, a sound was heard oft upon the 
water, and the sea-monster appeared, with his head 
raised above the surface, cleaving the waves with his 
broad breast. The virgin shriel<ed, the father and mother 
who had now arrived at the scene, wretched both, but 
the mother more justly so, stood by, not able to afford 
protection, but only to pour forth lamentations and to 
embrace the victim. Then spoke Perseus : "There will 
be time enough for tears ; this hour is all we have for 
rescue. My rank as the son of Jove and my renown as 
the slayer of the Gorgon might make me acceptable as 
a suitor ; but I will try to win her by services rendered, 
if the gods will only be propitious. If she be rescued by 
my valor, I demand that she be my reward." The par- 
ents consent (how could they hesitate?) and promise a 
royal dowry with her. 

And now the monster was within the range of a stone 
thrown by a skilful slinger, when with a sudden bound 
the youth soared into the air. As an eagle, when from 
his lofty flight he sees a serpent basking in the sun, 
pounces upon him and seizes him by the neck to prevent 
him from turning his head round and using his fangs, 
so the youth darted down upon the back of the monster 
and plunged his sword into its shoulder. Irritated by 
the wound, the monster raised himself in the air, then 
plunged into the depth ; then, like a wild boar surrounded, 
by a pack of barking dogs, turned swiftly from side to 
side, while the youth eluded its attacks by means of his 
wings. Wherever he can find a passage for his sword 
between the scales he makes a wound, piercing now the 
side, now the flank, as it slopes towards the tail. The 
brute spouts from his nostrils water mixed with blood. 
The wings of the hero are wet with it, and he dares no 
longer trust to them. Alighting on a rock which rose 
above the waves, and holding on by a projecting frag- 
ment, as the monster floated near he gave him a death 
stroke. The people who h.ad gathered on the shore 
shouted so that the hills reechoed the sound. The par- 
ents, transported with joy, eml)raced their future son-in- 
law, calling him their deliverer and the savior of their 



120 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

house, and the virgin, both cause and reward of the con- 
test, descended from the rock. 

Cassiopeia was an Ethiopian, and consequently, in 
spite of her boasted beauty, black; at least so Milton 
seems to have thought, who alludes to this story in his 
"Penseroso," where he addresses Melancholy as the 

". . . . goddess, sage and holy, 
Whose saintly visage is too bright 
To hit the pcnse of human sight. 
And, therefore, to our weaker view 
O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue. 
Black, but such as in esteem 
Prince Memnon's sister might beseem, 
Or that starred ^thiop queen that strove 
To set her beauty's praise above 
The sea-nymphs, and their powers oflfended." 

Cassiopeia is called "the starred ^thiop queen" be- 
cause after her death she was placed among the stars, 
forming the constellation of that name. Though she 
attained this honor, yet the Sea-Nymphs, her old ene- 
mies, prevailed so far as to cause her to be placed in that 
part of the heaven near the pole, where every night she 
is half the time held with her head downward, to give 
her a lesson of humility. 

Memnon was an /Ethiopian prince, of whom we 
shall tell in a future chapter. 



THE WEDDING FEAST 

The joyful parents, with Perseus/and Andromeda, 
repaired to the palace, where a banquet was spread for 
them, and all was joy and festivity. But suddenly a 
noise was heard of warlike clamor, and Phineus, the 
betrothed of the virgin, with a party of his adherents, 
burst in, demanding the maiden as his own. It was in 
vain that Cepheus remonstrated "You should have 
claimed her when she lay bound to the rock, the mon- 
ster's victim. The sentence of the gods dooming her to 
such a fate dissolved all engagements, as death itself 



THE WEDDING FEAST 121 

would have done." Phineus made no reply, but hurled 
his javelin at Perseus, but it missed its mark and fell 
harmless. Perseus would have thrown his in turn, but 
the cowardly assailant ran and took shelter behind the 
altar. But his act was a signal for an onset by his band 
upon the guests of Cepheus. They defended themselves 
and a general conflict ensued, the old king retreating 
from the scene after fruitless expostulations, calling the 
gods to witness that he was guiltless of this outrage on 
the rights of hospitality. 

Perseus and his friends maintained for some time the 
unequal contest; but the numbers of the assailants were 
too great for them, and destruction seemed inevitable, 
when a sudden thought struck Perseus, 'T will make 
my enemy defend me." Then with a loud voice he ex- 
claimed, 'Tf I have any friend here let him turn away 
his eyes !" and held aloft the Gorgon's head. "Seek not 
to frighten us with your jugglery," said Thescelus, and 
raised his javelin in act to throw, and became stone in the 
very attitude. Ampyx was about to plunge his sword 
into the body of a prostrate foe, but his arm stiffened 
and he could neither thrust forward nor withdraw it. 
Another, in the midst of a vociferous challenge, stopped, 
his mouth open, but no sound issuing. One of Perseus's 
friends, Aconteus, caught sight of the Gorgon and stiff- 
ened like the rest. Astyages struck him with his sword, 
but instead of wounding, it recoiled with a ringing 
noise. 

Phineus beheld this dreadful result of his unjust ag- 
gression, and felt confounded. He called aloud to his 
friends, but got no answer; he touched them and found 
them stone. Falling on his knees and stretching out his 
hands to Perseus, but turning his head away he begged 
for mercy. "Take all," said he, "give me but my life." 
"Base coward," said Perseus, "thus much I will grant 
you ; no weapon shall touch you ; moreover, you shall 
be preserved in my house as a memorial of these events." 
So saying, he held the Gorgon's head to the side where 
Phineus was looking, and in the very form in which he 
knelt, with his hands outstretched and face averted, he 
became fixed immovably, a mass of stone ! 



122 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

The following allusion to Perseus is from Milman's 
"Samor" : 

"As 'mid the fabled Lib3'an bridal stood 
Perseus in stern tranquillity of wrath, 
Half stood, half floated on his ankle-plumes 
Out-swelling, while the bright face on his shield 
Looked into stone the raging fray ; so rose, 
But with no magic arms, wearing alone 
Th' appalling and control of his tirm look, 
The Briton Samor; at his rising awe 
Went abroad, and the riotous hall was mute." 



CHAPTER XVI 



MONSTERS 



GIANTS, SPHINX, PEGASUS AND CHIMERA, CENTAURS, 
GRIFFIN, AND PYGMIES 

Monsters, in the language of mythology, were beings 
of unnatural proportions or parts, usually regarded with 
terror, as possessing immense strength and ferocity, 
which they employed for the injury and annoyance of 
men. Some of them were supposed to combine the mem- 
bers of different animals; such were the Sphinx and 
Chimasra; and to these all the terrible qualities of wild 
beasts were attributed, together with human sagacity and 
faculties. Others, as the giants, differed from men chiefly 
in their size; and in this particular we must recognize 
a wide distinction among them. The human giants, if 
so they may be called, such as the ^elopes, Antaeus, 
Orion, and others, must be supposed not to be altogether 
disproportioned to human beings, for they mingled in 
love and strife with them. But the superhuman giants, 
who warred with the gods, were of vastly larger dimen- 
sions. Tityus, we are told, when stretched on the plain, 
covered nine acres, and Enceladus required the whole of 
Mount vEtna to be laid upon him to keep him down. 

We have already spoken of the war which the giants 
waged against the gods, and of its result. While this 



THE SPHLNX 123 

war lasted the giants proved a formidable enemy. Some 
of them, like Briareus, had a hundred arms ; others, like 
Typhon, breathed out fire. At one time they put the gods 
to such fear that they fled into Egypt and hid them- 
selves under various forms. Jupiter took the form of a 
ram, whence he was afterwards worshipped in Egypt as 
the god Ammon, with curved horns. Apollo became a 
crow, Bacchus a goat, Diana a cat, Juno a cow, Venus a 
fish, Mercury a bird. At another time the giants at- 
tempted to climb up into heaven, and for that purpose 
took up the mountain Ossa and piled it on Pelion.^ 
They were at last subdued by thunderbolts, which Min- 
erva invented, and taught Vulcan and his Cyclopes to 
make for Jupiter. 

THE SPHINX 

Laius, king of Thebes, was warned by an oracle that 
there was danger to his throne and life if his new-born 
son should be suiTered to grow up. He therefore commit- 
ted the child to the care of a herdsman with orders to de- 
stroy him ; but the herdsman, moved with pity, yet not 
daring entirely to disobey, tied up the child by the feet 
and left him hanging to the branch of a tree. In this 
condition the infant was found by a peasant, who car- 
ried him to his master and mistress, by whom he was 
adopted and called QLdipus, or Swollen-foot. 

Many years afterwards Laius being on his way to 
Delphi, accompanied only by one attendant, met in a nar- 
row road a young man also driving in a chariot. On his 
refusal to leave the way at their command the attendant 
killed one of his horses, and the stranger, filled with rage, 
slew both Laius and his attendant. The young man was 
CEdipus, who thus unknowingly became the slayer of 
his own father. 

Shortly after this event the city of Thebes was afiflicted 
with a monster which infested the highroad. It was 
called the Sphinx. It had the body of a lion and the 
upper part of a woman. It lay crouched on the top of 
a rock, and arrested all travellers who came that way, 

^ See Proverbial E.xpressions. 



124 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

proposing to them a riddle, with the condition that those 
who could solve it should pass safe, but those who 
failed should be killed. Not one had yet succeeded 
in solving it, and all had been slain. (Edipus was not 
daunted by these alarming accounts, but boldly advanced 
to the trial. The Sphinx asked him, "What animal is 
that which in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on 
two, and in the evening upon three?" QEdipus replied, 
"Man, who in childhood creeps on hands and knees, in 
manhood walks erect, and in old age with the aid, of a 
staff." The Sphinx was so mortified at the solving of 
her riddle that she cast herself down from the rock and 
perished. 

The gratitude of the people for their deliverance was 
so great that they made Qidipus their king, giving him 
in marriage their queen Jocasta. GEdipus, ignorant of 
his parentage, had already become the slayer of his fa- 
ther; in marrying the queen he became the husband of 
his mother. These horrors remained undiscovered, till at 
length Thebes was afflicted with famine and pestilence, 
and the oracle being consulted, the double crime of 
CEdipus came to light. Jocasta put an end to her own 
life, and Oedipus, seized with madness, tore out his eyes 
and wandered away from Thebes, dreaded and aban- 
doned by all except his daughters, who faithfully ad- 
hered to him, till after a tedious period of miserable 
wandering he found the termination of his wretched 
life. 

PEGASUS AND THE CHIMERA 

When Perseus cut off Medusa's head, the blood sink- 
ing into the earth produced the winge'd horse Pegasus. 
Minerva caught him and tamed him and presented him 
to the Muses. The fountain Hippocrene, on the Muses' 
mountain Helicon, was opened by a kick from his hoof. 

The Chimsera was a fearful monster, breathing fire. 
The fore part of its body was a compound of the lion 
and the goat, and the hind part a dragon's. It made 
great havoc in Lycia, so that the king, lobates, sought 
for some hero to destroy it. At that time there arrived 
at his court a gallant young warrior, whose name was 



PEGASUS AND THE CHIMERA 125 

Bellerophon. He brought letters from Proetus, the son- 
in-law of lobates, recommending Bellerophon in the 
warmest terms as an unconquerable hero, but added at 
the close a request to his father-in-law to put him to 
death. The reason was that Proetus was jealous of him, 
suspecting that his wife Antea looked with too much ad- 
miration on the young warrior. From this instance of 
Bellerophon being unconsciously the bearer of his own 
death warrant, the expression "Bellerophontic letters" 
arose, to describe any species of communication which a 
person is made the bearer of, containing matter preju- 
dicial to himself. 

lobates, on perusing the letters, was puzzled what to 
do, not willing to violate the claims of hospitality, yet 
wishing to oblige his son-in-law. A lucky thought oc- 
curred to him, to send Bellerophon to combat with the 
Chimsera. Bellerophon accepted the proposal, but be- 
fore proceeding to the combat consulted the soothsayer 
Polyidus, who advised him to procure if possible the 
horse Pegasus for the conflict. For this purpose he 
directed him to pass the night in the temple of Minerva. 
He did so, and as he slept Minerva came to him and gave 
him a golden bridle. When he awoke the bridle re- 
mained in his hand. Minerva also showed him Pegasus 
drinking at the well of Pirene, and at sight of the bridle 
the winged steed came willingly and suffered himself to 
be taken. Bellerophon mounted him, rose with him into 
the air, soon found the Chimaera, and gained an easy 
victory over the monster. 

After the conquest of the Chimcera Bellerophon was 
exposed to further trials and labors by his unfriendly 
host, but by the aid of Pegasus he triumphed in them 
all, till at length lobates, seeing that the hero was a 
special favorite of the gods, gave him his daughter in 
marriage and made him his successor on the throne. At 
last Bellerophon by his pride and presumption drew 
upon himself the anger of the gods ; it is said he even 
attempted to fly up into heaven on his winged steed, but 
Jupiter sent a gadfly which stung Pegasus and made 
him throw his rider, who became lame and blind in con- 
sequence. After this Bellerophon wandered lonely 



126 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

through the Aleian field, avoiding the paths of men, and 
'iied miserably. 

Milton alludes to Bellerophon in the beginning of the 
seventh book of "Paradise Lost" : 

"Descend from Heaven, Urania, by that name 
If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine 
Following above the Olympian hill I soar, 
Above the flight of Pegasean wing. 

Upled by thee. 
Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed, 
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air 
(Thy tempering) ; with like safety guided down 
Return me to my native element ; 
Lest from this flying steed unreined (as once 
Bellerophon, though from a lower sphere), 
Dismounted on the Aleian field I fall, 
Erroneous there to wander and forlorn." 

Young, in his "Night Thoughts," speaking of the 
sceptic, says : 

"He whose blind thought futurity denies, 
Unconscious bears, Bellerophon, like thee 
His own indictment; he condemns himself. 
Who reads his bosom reads immortal life, 
Or nature there, imposing on her sons. 
Has written fables; man was made a lie." 

Vol. II.. p. 12. 

Pegasus, being the horse of the Muses, has always 
been at the service of the poets. Schiller tells a pretty 
story of his having been sold by a needy poet and put to 
the cart and the plough. He was not fit for such service, 
and his clownish master could make nothing of him. 
But a youth stepped forth and asked leave to try him. 
As soon as he was seated on his back the horse, which 
had appeared at first vicious, and afterwards spirit- 
broken, rose kingly, a spirit, a god, unfolded the splen- 
dor of his wings, and soared towards heaven. Our own 
poet Longfellow also records an adventure of this fa- 
mous steed in his "Pegasus in Pound." 

Shakspeare alludes to Pegasus in "Henry IV.," where 
Vernon describes Prince Henry : 



i 



THE CENTAURS 127 

'I saw young Harry, with his beaver on, 
His cuishes on his thighs, gallantly armed, 
Rise from the ground like feathered Mercury, 
And vaulted with such ease into his seat. 
As if an angel dropped down from the clouds, 
To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus, 
And witch the world with noble horsemanship." 



THE CENTAURS 

These monsters were represented as men from the 
head to the loins, while the remainder of the body was 
that of a horse. The ancients were too fond of a horse 
to consider the union of his nature with man's as form- 
ing a very degraded compound, and accordingly the 
Centaur is the only one of the fancied monsters of an- 
tiquity to which any good traits are assigned. The Cen- 
taurs were admitted to the companionship of man, and 
at the marriage of Pirithous with Hippodamia they were 
among the guests. At the feast Eurytion, one of the 
Centaurs, becoming intoxicated with the wine, attempted 
to offer violence to the bride; the other Centaurs fol- 
lowed his example, and a dreadful conflict arose in which 
several of them were slain. This is the celebrated battle 
of the Lapithse and Centaurs, a favorite subject with 
the sculptors and poets of antiquity. 

But not all the Centaurs were like the rude guests of 
Pirithous. Chiron was instruct ed by Ap^ llu_and Diann, 
and^wa^r^o^rrred--fef-ihi^^ 

nnIsic^aiiiJiie^S?F^ol5E0Eiy^ ^The most distinguished 
heroes of Grecian story were his pupils. Amongthe_ 
rf'st the inf^rt /T^'^^iilfpins ^^^a*' intruste d to his cnarge ' 
by^ Apollo, his fat her. When the sagereturned to his" 
home bearing the infant, his daughter Ocyroe came 
forth to meet him, and at sight of the child burst forth 
into a prophetic strain (for she was a prophetess), fore- 
telling the glory that he was to achieve. ^'Esculapius 
when grown up became a renowned physician, and even 
in one instance succeeded in restoring the dead to life. 
Pluto resented this, and Jupiter, at his request, struck 
the bold physician with lightning, and killed him, but 
after his death received him into the number of the gods. 



128 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Chiron was the wisest and justest of all the Centaurs, 
and at his death Jupiter placed him among the stars as 
the constellation Sagittarius. 

THE PYGMIES 

The Pygmies were a nation of dwarfs, so called from 
a Greek word which means the cubit or measure of 
about thirteen inches, which was said to be the height of 
these people. They lived near the sources of the Nile, 
or according to others, in India. Homer tells us that 
the cranes used to migrate every winter to the Pygmies' 
country, and their appearance was the signal of bloody 
warfare to the puny inhabitants, who had to take up 
arms to defend their cornfields against the rapacious 
strangers. The Pygmies and their enemies the Cranes 
form the subject of several works of art. 

Later writers tell of an army of Pygmies which find- 
ing Hercules asleep made preparations to attack him. as 
if they were about to attack a city. But the hero, 
awaking, laughed at the little warriors, wrapped some 
of them up in his lion's skin, and carried them to 
Eurystheus. 

Milton uses the Pygmies for a simile, "Paradise 
Lost," Book I. : 

". . . like that Pygmaean race 
Beyond the Indian mount, or fairy elves 
Whose midnight revels by a forest side, 
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees 
(Or dreams he sees), while overhead the moon 
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth 
Wheels her pale course ; they on theip^mirth and dance 
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear. 
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds." 



THE GRIFFIN, OR GRYPHON 

The Grififin is a monster with the body of a lion, the 
head and wings of an eagle, and back covered with 
feathers. Like birds it builds its nest, and instead of an 
egg lays an agate therein. It has long claws and talons 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 129 

of such a size that the people of that country make 
them into drinking-cups. India was assigned as the na- 
tive country of the Griffins. They found gold in the 
mountains and built their nests of it, for which reason 
their nests were very tempting to the hunters, and they 
were forced to keep vigilant guard over them. Their in- 
stinct led them to know where buried treasures lay, and 
they did their best to keep plunderers at a distance. The 
Arimaspians, among whom the Griffins flourished, were 
a one-eyed people of Scythia. 

Milton borrows a simile from the Griffins, "Paradise 
i^ost," Book IL: 

"As when a Gryphon through the wilderness, 
With winged course, o'er hill and moory dale, 
Pursues the Arimaspian who by stealth 
Hath from his wakeful custody purloined 
His guarded gold," etc. 



CHAPTER XVH 

THE GOLDEN FLEECE MEDEA 
THE GOLDEN FLEECE 

In very ancient times there lived in Thessaly a king 
and queen named Athamas and Nephele. They had two 
children, a boy and a girl. After a time Athamas grew 
indifferent to his wife, put her away, and took another. 
Nephele suspected danger to her children from the in- 
fluence of the step-mother, and took measures to send 
them out of her reach. Mercury assisted her, and gave 
her a ram with a golden fleece, on which she set the two 
children, trusting that the ram would convey them to a 
place of safety. The ram vaulted into the air with the 
children on his back, taking his course to the East, till 
when crossing the strait that divides Europe and Asia, 
the girl, whose name was Helle. fell from his back into 
the sea, which from her was called the Hellespont, 
now the Dardanelles. The ram continued his career till 



130 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

he reached the kingdom of Colchis, on the eastern shore 
of the Black Sea, where he safely landed the boy 
Phryxus, who was hospitably received by ^etes, king 
of the country. Phryxus sacrificed the ram to Jupiter, 
and gave the Golden Fleece to ^etes, who placed it in 
a consecrated grove, under the care of a sleepless 
dragon. 

There was another kingdom in Thessaly near to that 
of Athamas, and ruled over by a relative of his. The 
king yEson, being tired of the cares of government, sur- 
rendered his crown to his brother Pelias on condition 
that he should hold it only during the minority of Jason, 
the son of ^.son. When Jason was grown up and came 
to demand the crown from his uncle, Pelias pretended 
to be willing to yield it, but at the same time suggested 
to the young man the glorious adventure of going in 
quest of the Golden Fleece, which it was well known was 
in the kingdom of Colchis, and was, as Pelias pretended, 
the rightful property of their family. Jason was pleased 
with the thought, and forthwith made preparations for 
the expedition. At that time the only species of naviga- 
tion known to the Greeks consisted of small boats or 
canoes hollowed out from trunks of trees, so that when 
Jason employed Argus to build him a vessel capable of 
containing fifty men, it was considered a gigantic under- 
taking. It was accomplished, however, and the vessel 
named "Argo," from the name of the builder. Jason 
sent his invitation to all the adventurous young men of 
Greece, and soon found himself at the head of a band of 
bold youths, many of whom afterwards were renowned 
among the heroes and demigods of Greece. Hercules, 
' Theseus, Orpheus, and Nestor were apiong them. They 
are called the Argonauts, from the name of their vessel. 
The "Argo" with her crew of heroes left the shores 
of Thessaly and having touched at the Island of Lemnos, 
thence crossed to Mysia and thence to Thrace. Here 
they found the sage Phineus, and from him received in- 
struction as to their future course. It seems the en- 
trance of the Euxine Sea was impeded by two small 
rocky islands, which floated on the surface, and in their 
tossings and heavings occasionally (?ame together, crush- 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 131 

ing and grinding to atoms any object that might be caught 
between them. They were called the Symplegades, or 
Clashing Islands. Phineus instructed the Argonauts 
how to pass this dangerous strait. When they reached 
the islands they let go a dove, which took her way be- 
tween the rocks, and passed in safety, only losing some 
feathers of her tail. Jason and his men seized the 
favorable moment of the rebound, plied their oars with 
vigor, and passed safe through, though the islands closed 
behind them, and actually grazed their stern. They now 
rowed along the shore till they arrived at the eastern 
end of the sea, and landed at the kingdom of Colchis. 

Jason made known his message to the Colchian king, 
^etes, who consented to give up the golden fleece if 
Jason would yoke to the plough two fire-breathing bulls 
with brazen feet, and sow the teeth of the dragon 
which Cadmus had slain, and from which it was well 
known that a crop of armed men would spring up, 
who would turn their weapons against their producer. 
Jason accepted the conditions, and a time was set for 
making the experiment. Previously, however, he found 
means to plead his cause to Medea, daughter of the king. 
He promised her marriage, and as they stood before the 
altar of Hecate, called the goddess to witness his oath. 
Medea yielded, and by her aid, for she was a potent 
sorceress, he was furnished with a charm, by which he 
could encounter safely the breath of the fire-breathing 
bulls and the weapons of the armed men. 

At the time appointed, the people assembled at the 
grove of Mars, and the king assumed his royal seat, 
while the multitude covered the hill-sides. The brazen- 
footed bulls rushed in, breathing fire from their nostrils 
that burned up the herbage as they passed. The sound 
was like the roar of a furnace, and the smoke like that 
of water upon quick-lime. Jason advanced boldly to 
meet them. His friends, the chosen heroes of Greece, 
trembled to behold him. Regardless of the burning 
breath, he soothed their rage with his voice, patted their 
necks with fearless hand, and adroitly slipped over them 
the yoke, and compelled them to drag the plough. The 
Colchians were amazed; the Greeks shouted for joy. 



132 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Jason next proceeded to sow the dragon's teeth and 
plough them in. And soon the crop of armed men 
sprang up, and, wonderful to relate ! no sooner had they 
reached the surface than they began to brandish their 
weapons and rush upon Jason. The Greeks trembled for 
their hero, and even she who had provided him a way 
of safety and taught him how to use it, Medea herself, 
grew pale with fear. Jason for a time kept his assail- 
ants at bay with his sword and shield, till, finding their 
numbers overwhelming, he resorted to the charm which 
Medea had taught him, seized a stone and threw it in 
the midst of his foes. They immediately turned their 
arms against one another, and soon there was not one 
of the dragon's brood left slive. The Greeks embraced 
their hero, and Medea, if she dared, would have em- 
braced him too. 

It remained to lull to sleep the dragon that guarded 
the fleece, and this was done by scattering over him a 
few drops of a preparation which Medea had supplied. 
At the smell he relaxed his rage, stood for a moment 
motionless, then shut those great round eyes, that had 
never been known to shut before, and turned over on 
his side, fast asleep. Jason seized the fleece and with 
his friends and Medea accompanying, hastened to their 
vessel before .^etes the king could arrest their depart- 
ure, and made the best of their way back to Thessaly, 
where they arrived safe, and Jason delivered the fleece 
to Pelias, and dedicated the "Argo" to Neptune. What 
became of the fleece afterwards we do not know, but 
perhaps it was found after all, like many other golden 
prizes, not worth the trouble it had cost to procure it. 

This is one of those mythological tales, says a late 
writer, in which there is reason to believe that a sub- 
stratum of truth exists, though overlaid by a mass of 
fiction. It probably was the first important maritime 
expedition, and like the first attempts of the kind of all 
nations, as we know from history, was probably of a 
half-piratical character. If rich spoils were the result 
it was enough to give rise to the idea of the golden 
fleece. 



THE GOLDEN FLEECE 133 

Another suggestion of a learned mythologist, Bryant, 
is that it is a corrupt tradition of the story of Noah and 
the ark. The name "Argo" seems to countenance this, 
and the incident of the dove is another confirmation. 

Pope, in his "Ode on Str^ecilia's Day," thus cele- 
brates the launching of the ship "Argo." and the power 
of the music of Orpheus, whom he calls the Thracian : 

" So when the first bold vessel dared the seas. 

High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain, 

While Argo saw her kindred trees 
Descend from Pelion to the main. 

Transported demigods stood round, 

And men grew heroes at the sound." 

In Dyer's poem of "The Fleece" there is an account 
of the ship "Argo" and her crew, which gives a good 
picture of this primitive maritime adventure : 

"From every region of ^gea's shore 
The brave assembled; those illustrious twins 
Castor and Pollux; Orpheus, tuneful bard; 
Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed ; 
Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned. 
On deep lolcos' sandy shore they thronged, 
Gleaming in armor, ardent of exploits; 
And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone 
Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark; 
Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand 
Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt; 
And in the extended keel a lofty mast 
Upraised, and sails full swelling; to the chiefs 
Unwonted objects. Now first, now they learned 
Their bolder steerage ever ocean wave. 
Led by the golden stars, as Chiron's art 
Had marked the sphere celestial," etc. 

Hercules left the expedition at Mysia, for Hylas, a 
youth beloved by him, having gone for water, was laid 
hold of and kept by the nymphs of the spring, who 
were fascinated by his beauty. Hercules went in quest 
of the lad, and while he was absent the "Argo" put to 
sea and left him. Moore, in one of his songs, makes 
a beautiful allusion to this incident : 



134 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

"When Hylas was sent with his urn to the fount, 

Through fields full of light and with heart full of play, 
Light rambled the boy over meadow and mount, 
And neglected his task for the flowers in the way. 

"Thus many like me, who in youth should have tasted 

The fountain that runs by Philosophy's shrine, 
Their time with the flowers on the margin have wasted, 
And left their light urns all as empty as mine." 



MEDEA AND ^SON 

Amid the rejoicings for the recovery of the Golden 
Fleece, Jason felt that one thing was wanting, the pres- 
ence of .^son, his father, who was prevented by his 
age and infirmities from taking part in them. Jason 
said to Medea, "My spouse, would that your arts, 
whose power I have seen so mighty for my aid, could 
do me one further service, take some years from my 
life and add them to my father's." Medea replied, 
"Not at such a cost shall it be done, but if my art 
avails me, his life shall be lengthened without abridg- 
ing yours." The next full moon she issued forth alone, 
while all creatures slept ; not a breath stirred the fo- 
liage, and all was still. To the stars she addressed her 
incantations, and to the moon ; to Hecate,^ the goddess 
of the underworld, and to Tellus the goddess of the 
earth, by whose power plants potent for enchantment 
are produced. She invoked the gods of the woods and 
caverns, of mountains and valleys, of lakes and rivers, 
of winds and vapors. While she spoke the stars shone 
brighter, and presently a chariot descended through the 
air, drawn by flying serpents. She ascended it, and 
borne aloft- made her way to distant/regions, where po- 
tent plants grew which she knew how to select for her 
purpose. Nine nights she employed in her search, and 
during that time came not within the doors of her pal- 
ace nor under any roof, and shunned all intercourse 
with mortals. 

' Hecate ;yas a mysterious divinity sometimes identified with Diana and 
sometimes with Proserpine. As Diana represents the moonlight splendor 
of night, so Hecate represents its darkness and terrors. She was the 
goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, and was believed to wander by night 
along the earth, seen only by the dogs, whose barking told her apDroach. 



MEDEA AND ^SON 135 

She next erected two altars, the one to Hecate, the 
other to Hebe, the goddess of youth, and sacrificed a 
black sheep, pouring libations of milk and wine. She 
implored Pluto and his stolen bride that they would not 
hasten to take the old man's life. Then she directed 
that /Eson should be led forth, and having thrown him 
into a deep sleep by a charm, had him laid on a bed 
of herbs, like one dead. Jason and all others were 
kept away from the place, that no profane eyes might 
look upon her mysteries. Then, with streaming hair, 
she thrice moved round the altars, dipped flaming twigs 
in the blood, and laid them thereon to burn. Mean- 
while the caldron with its contents was got ready. In 
it she put magic herbs, with seeds and flowers of acrid 
juice, stones from the distant east, and sand from the 
shore of all-surrounding ocean ; hoar frost, gathered by 
moonlight, a screech owl's head and wings, and the en- 
trails of a wolf. She added fragments of the shells 
of tortoises, and the liver of stags, animals tenacious 
of life, and the head and beak of a crow, that out- 
lives nine generations of men. These with many other 
things ''without a name" she boiled together for her 
purposed work, stirring them up with a dry olive 
branch ; and behold ! the branch when taken out in- 
stantly became green, and before long was covered with 
leaves and a plentiful growth of young olives; and as 
the liquor boiled and bubbled, and sometimes ran over, 
the grass wherever the sprinklings fell shot forth with 
a verdure like that of spring. 

Seeing that all was ready, Medea cut the throat of 
the old man and let out all his blood, and poured into 
his mouth and into his wound the juices of her caldron. 
As soon as he had completely imbibed them, his hair 
and beard laid by their whiteness and assumed the black- 
ness of youth ; his paleness and emaciation were gone ; 
his veins were full of blood, his limbs of vigor and 
robustness, ^son is amazed at himself, and remembers 
that such as he now is, he was in his youthful days, 
forty years before. 

Medea used her arts here for a good purpose, but 
not so in another instance, where she made them the 



136 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

instruments of revenge. Pelias, our readers will recol- 
lect, was the usurping uncle of Jason, and had kept him 
out of his kingdom. Yet he must have had some good 
qualities, for his daughters loved him, and when they 
saw what Medea had done for ^son, they wished her 
to do the same for their father. Medea pretended to 
consent, and prepared her caldron as before. At her 
request an old sheep was brought and plunged into the 
caldron. Very soon a bleating was heard in the kettle, 
and when the cover was removed, a lamb jumped forth 
and ran frisking away into the meadow. The daughters 
of Pelias saw the experiment with delight, and appointed 
a time for their father to undergo the same operation. 
But Medea prepared her caldron for him in a very 
different way. She put in only water and a few simple 
herbs. In the night she with the sisters entered the 
bed chamber of the old king, while he and his guards 
slept soundly under the influence of a spell cast upon 
them by Medea. The daughters stood by the bedside 
with their weapons drawn, but hesitated to strike, till 
Medea chid their irresolution. Then turning away their 
faces, and giving random blows, they smote him with 
their weapons. He, starting from his sleep, cried out, 
"My daughters, what are you doing? Will you kill 
your father?" Their hearts failed them and their weap- 
ons fell from their hands, but Medea struck him a fatal 
blow, and prevented his saying more. 

Then they placed him in the caldron, and Medea 
hastened to depart in her serpent-drawn chariot before 
they discovered her treachery, or their vengeance would 
have been terrible. She escaped, however, but had little 
enjoyment of* the fruits of her crim^ Jason, for whom 
she had done so much, wishing to marry Creusa, princess 
of Corinth, put away Medea. She, enraged at his in- 
gratitude, called on the gods for vengeance, sent a pois- 
oned robe as a gift to the bride, and then killing her 
own children, and setting fire to the palace, mounted 
her serpent-drawn chariot and fled to Athens, where 
she married King ^geus, the father of Theseus, and 
we shall meet her again when we come to the adven- 
tures of that hero. 



MEDEA AND ^SON 137 

The incantations of Medea will remind the reader 
of those of the witches in "Macbeth." The following 
lines are those which seem most strikingly to recall the 
ancient m.odel : 

"Round about the caldron go; 
In the poisoned entrails throw. 

Fillet of a fenny snake 

In the caldron boil and bake; 

Eye of newt and toe of frog, 

Wool of bat and tongue of dog. 

Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting, 

Lizard's leg and howlet's wing : 

Maw of ravening salt-sea shark, 

Root of hemlock digged in the dark," etc. 

Macbeth, Act IV., Scene 1 

And again : 

Macbeth. What is't you do? 
Witches. A deed without a name. 

There is another story of Medea almost too revolting 
for record even of a sorceress, a class of persons to 
whom both ancient and modern poets have been accus- 
tomed to attribute every degree of atrocity. In her 
flight from Colchis she had taken her young brother 
Absyrtus with her. Finding the pursuing vessels of 
^etes gaining upon the Argonauts, she caused the lad 
to be killed and his limbs to be strewn over the sea. 
.i^etes on reaching the place found these sorrowful 
traces of his murdered son ; but while he tarried to 
collect the scattered fragments and bestow upon them 
an honorable interment, the Argonauts escaped. 

In the poems of Campbell will be found a transla- 
tion of one of the choruses of the tragedy of "Medea," 
where the poet Euripides has taken advantage of the 
occasion to pay a glowing tribute to Athens, his native 
city. It begins thus : 

"O haggard queen ! to Athens dost thou guide 
Thy glowing chariot, steeped in kindred gore; 
Or seek to hide thy damned parricide 

Where peace and justice dwell for evermore?" 



138 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 
CHAPTER XVni 

MELEAGER AND ATALANTA 

One of the heroes of the Argonautic expedition was 
Meleager, son of Qlneus and Althea, king and queen 
of Calydon. Althea, when her son was born, beheld 
the three destinies, who, as they spun their fatal thread, 
foretold that the life of the child should last no longer 
than a brand then burning upon the hearth. Althea 
seized and quenched the brand, and carefully preserved 
it for years, while Meleager grew to boyhood, youth, and 
manhood. It chanced, then, that CEneus, as he offered 
sacrifices to the gods, omitted to pay due honors to 
Diana ; and she, indignant at the neglect, sent a wild 
boar of enormous size to lay waste the fields of Caly- 
don. Its eyes shone with blood and fire, its bristles stood 
like threatening spears, its tusks were like those of In- 
dian elephants. The growing corn was trampled, the 
vines and olive trees laid waste, the flocks and herds 
were driven in wild confusion by the slaughtering foe. 
All common aid seemed vain ; but Meleager called on 
the heroes of Greece to join in a bold hunt for the 
ravenous monster. Theseus and his friend Pirithous, 
Jason, Peleus, afterwards the father of Achilles, Tela- 
mon the father of Ajax, Nestor, then a youth, but who 
in his age bore arms with Achilles and Ajax in the 
Trojan war, these and many more joined in the enter- 
prise. With them came Atalanta, the daughter of lasius, 
king of Arcadia. A buckle of polished gold confined her 
vest, an ivory quiver hung on her leit shoulder, and her 
left hand bore the bow. Her face blent feminine beauty 
with the best graces of martial youth. Meleager saw 
and loved. 

But now already they were near the monster's lair. 
They stretched strong nets from tree to tree ; they un- 
coupled their dogs, they tried to find the footprints of 
their cfuarry in the grass. From the wood was a de- 
scent to marshy ground. Here the boar, as he lay 



MELEAGER AND ATALANTA " 139 

among the reeds, heard the shouts of his pursuers, and 
rushed forth against them. One and another is thrown 
down and slain. Jason throws his spear, with a prayer 
to Diana for success ; and the favoring goddess allows 
the weapon to touch, but not to wound, removing the 
steel point of the spear in its flight. Nestor, assailed, 
seeks and finds safety in the branches of a tree. Tela- 
nion rushes on, but stumbling at a projecting root, falls 
prone. But an arrow from Atalanta at length for the 
first time tastes the monster's blood. It is a slight wound, 
but Meleager sees and joyfully proclaims it. Anceus, 
excited to envy by the praise given to a female, loudly 
proclaims his own valor, and defies alike the boar and 
the goddess who had sent it ; but as he rushes on, the 
infuriated beast lays him low with a mortal wound. 
Theseus throws his lance, but it is turned aside by a 
projecting bough. The dart of Jason misses its object, 
and kills instead one of their own dogs. But Meleager, 
after one unsuccessful stroke, drives his spear into the 
monster's side, then rushes on and despatches him with 
repeated blows. 

Then rose a shout from those around ; they congratu- 
lated the conqueror, crowding to touch his hand. He, 
placing his foot upon the head of the slain boar, turned 
to Atalanta and bestowed on her the head and the rough 
hide which were the trophies of his success. But at 
this, envy excited the rest to strife. Plexippus and 
Toxeus, the brothers of Meleager's mother, beyond the 
rest opposed the gift, and snatched from the maiden 
the trophy she had received. Meleager, kindling with 
rage at the wrong done to himself, and still more at 
the insult offered to her whom he loved, forgot the 
claims of kindred, and plunged his sword into the of- 
fenders' hearts. 

As Althea bore gifts of thankfulness to the temples 
for the victory of her son, the bodies of her murdered 
brothers met her sight. She shrieks, and beats her 
breast, and hastens to change the garments of rejoicing 
for those of mourning. But when the author of the 
deed is known, grief gives way to the stern desire of 
vengeance on her son. The fatal brand, which once 



140 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

she rescued from the flames, the brand which the des- 
tinies had hnked with Meleager's hfe, she brings forth, 
and commands a fire to be prepared. Then four times 
she essays to place the brand upon the pile ; four times 
draws back, shuddering at the thought of bringing de- 
struction on her son. The feelings of the mother and 
the sister contend within her. Now she is pale at the 
thought of the proposed deed, now flushed again with 
anger at the act of her son. As a vessel, driven in one 
direction by the wind, and in the opposite by the tide, 
the mind of Altliea hangs suspended in uncertainty. But 
now the sister prevails above the mother, and she begins 
as she holds the fatal wood: "Turn, ye Furies, god- 
desses of punishment 1 turn to behold the sacrifice I 
bring ! Crime must atone for crime. Shall CEneus re- 
joice in his victor son, while the house of Thestius is 
desolate ? But, alas 1 to what deed am I borne along ? 
Brothers forgive a mother's weakness ! my hand fails 
me. He deserves death, but not that I should destroy 
him. But shall he then live, and triumph, and reign 
over Calydon, while you, my brothers, wander unavenged 
among the shades? No ! thou hast lived by my gift ; die, 
now, for thine own crime. Return the life which twice 
I gave thee, first at thy birth, again when I snatched 
this brand from the flames. O that thou hadst then died ! 
Alas ! evil is the conquest ; but, brothers, ye have con- 
quered." And, turning away her face,' she threw the 
fatal wood upon the burning pile. 

It gave, or seemed to give, a deadly groan. Meleager, 
absent and unknowing of the cause, felt a sudden pang. 
He burns, and only by courageous pride conquers the 
pain which destroys him. He mourn^ only that he per- 
ishes by a bloodless and unhonorea death. With his 
last breath he calls upon his aged father, his brother, 
and his fond sisters, upon his beloved Atalanta, and 
upon his mother, the unknown cause of his fate. The 
flames increase, and with them the pain of the hero. 
Now both subside ; now both are quenched. The brand 
is ashes, and the life of Meleager is breathed forth to 
the wandering winds. 

Althea, when the deed was done, laid violent hands 



ATALANTA 141 

upon herself. The sisters of Meleager mourned their 
brother with uncontrollable grief ; till Diana, pitying the 
sorrows of the house that once had aroused her anger, 
turned them into birds. 

ATALANTA 

The innocent cause of so much sorrow was a maiden 
whose face you might truly say was boyish for a girl, 
yet too girlish for a boy. Her fortune had been told, 
and it was to this effect : "Atalanta, do not marry ; mar- 
riage will be your ruin." Terrified by this oracle, she 
fled the society of men, and devoted herself to the sports 
of the chase. To all suitors (for she had many) she 
imposed a condition which was generally effectual in 
relieving her of their persecutions, "I will be the prize 
of him who shall conquer me in the race ; but death must 
be the penalty of all who try and fail." In spite of this 
hard condition some would try. Hippomenes was to be 
judge of the race. "Can it be possible that any will be 
so rash as to risk so much for a wife?" said he. But 
when he saw her lay aside her robe for the race, he 
changed his mind, and said, "Pardon me, youths, I knew 
not the prize you were competing for." As he surveyed 
them he wished them all to be beaten, and swelled with 
envy of any one that seemed at all likely to win. While 
such were his thoughts, the virgin darted forward. As 
she ran she looked more beautiful than ever. The 
breezes seemed to give wings to her feet ; her hair flew 
over her shoulders, and the gay fringe of her garment 
fluttered behind her. A ruddy hue tinged the whiteness 
of her skin, such as a crimson curtain casts on a marble 
wall. All her competitors were distanced, and were put 
to death without mercy. Hippomenes, not daunted by 
this result, fixing his eyes on the virgin, said, "Why 
boast of beating those laggards? I oft'er myself for the 
contest." Atalanta looked at him with a pitying coun- 
tenance, and hardly knew whether she would rather con- 
quer him or not. "What god can tempt one so young 
and handsome to throw himself away? I pity him, not 
for his beauty (yet he is beautiful), but for his youth. 



142 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

I wish he would give up the race, or if he will be so 
mad, I hope he may outrun me." While she hesitates, 
revolving these thoughts, the spectators grow impatient 
for the race, and her father prompts her to prepare. 
Then Hippomenes addressed a prayer to Venus : "Help 
me, Venus, for you have led me on." Venus heard and 
was propitious. 

In the garden of her temple, in her own island of 
Cyprus, is a tree with yellow leaves and yellow branches 
and golden fruit. Hence she gathered three golden ap- 
ples, and, unseen by any one else, gave them to Hippo- 
menes, and told him how to use them. The signal is 
given ; each starts from the goal and skims over the 
sand. So light their tread, you would almost have 
thought they might run over the river surface or over 
the waving grain without sinking. The cries of the 
spectators cheered Hippomenes, "Now, now, do your 
best ! haste, haste ! you gain on her ! relax not ! one more 
effort !" It was doubtful whether the youth or the maiden 
heard these cries with the greater pleasure. But his 
breath began to fail him, his throat was dry, the goal 
yet far off. At that moment he threw down one of the 
golden apples. The virgin was all amazement. She 
stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes shot ahead. Shouts 
burst forth from all sides. She redoubled her efforts, 
and soon overtook him. Again he threw an apple. She 
stopped again, but again came up with him. The goal 
was near; one chance only remained. "Now, goddess," 
said he, "prosper your gift!" and threw the last apple 
off at one side. She looked at it, and hesitated; V^enus 
impelled her to turn aside for it. She did so, and was 
vanquished. The youth carried off his /prize. 

But the lovers were so full of their own happiness 
that they forgot to pay due honor to Venus ; and the 
goddess was provoked at their ingratitude. She caused 
them to give offence to Cybele. That powerful goddess 
was not to be insulted with impunity. She took from 
them their human form and turned them into animals 
of characters resembling their own : of the huntress- 
heroine, triumphing in the blood of her lovers, she made 
a lioness, and of her lord and master a lion, and yoked 



HERCULES 143 

them to her car, where they are still to be seen in all 
representations, in statuary or painting, of the goddess 
Cybele. 

Cybele is the Latin name of the goddess called by 
the Greeks Rhea and Ops. She was the wife of Cronos 
and mother of Zeus. In works of art she exhibits the 
matronly air which distinguishes Juno and Ceres. Some- 
times she is veiled, and seated on a throne with lions at 
her side, at other times riding in a chariot drawn by 
lions. She wears a mural crown, that is, a crown whose 
rim is carved in the form of towers and battlements. 
Her priests were called Corybantes. 

Byron, in describing the city of Venice, which is built 
on a low island in the Adriatic Sea, borrows an illus- 
tration from Cybele : 

"She looks a sea-Cybele fresh from ocean, 
Rising with her tiara of proud towers 
At airy distance, with majestic motion, 
A ruler of the waters and their powers." 

Childe Harold, IV. 

In Moore's "Rhymes on the Road," the poet, speaking 
of Alpine scenery, alludes to the story of Atalanta and 
Hippomenes thus : 

"Even here, in this region of wonders, I find 
That light-footed Fancy leaves Truth far behind, 
Or at least, like Hippomenes, turns her astray 
By the golden illusions he flings in her way." 



CHAPTER XIX 

HERCULES HEBE AND GANYMEDE 
HERCULES 

Hercules was the son of Jupiter and Alcmena. As 
Juno was always hostile to the offspring of her husband 
by mortal mothers, she declared war against Hercules 



144 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

from his birth. She sent two serpents to destroy him as 
he lay in his cradle, but the precocious infant strangled 
them with his own hands. He was, however, by the 
arts of Juno rendered subject to Eurystheus and com- 
pelled to perform all his commands. Eurystheus en- 
joined upon him a succession of desperate adventures, 
which are called the "Twelve Labors of Hercules." The 
first was the fight with the Nemean lion. The valley 
of Nemea was infested by a terrible lion. Eurystheus 
ordered Hercules to bring him the skin of this monster. 
After using in vain his club and arrows against the lion, 
Hercules strangled the animal with his hands. He re- 
turned carrying the dead lion on his shoulders ; but 
Eurystheus was so frightened at the sight of it and at 
this proof of the prodigious strength of the hero, that 
he ordered him to deliver the account of his exploits 
in future outside the town. 

His next labor was the slaughter of the Hydra. This 
monster ravaged the country of Argos, and dwelt in a 
swamp near the well of Amymone. This well had been 
discovered by Amymone when the country was suffering 
from drought, and the story was that Neptune, who loved 
her, had permitted her to touch the rock with his trident, 
and a spring of three outlets burst forth. Here the 
Hydra took up his position, and Hercules was sent to 
destroy him. The Hydra had nine heads, of which the 
middle one was immortal. Hercules struck off its heads 
with his club, but in the place of the head knocked off, 
two new ones grew forth each time. At length with 
the assistance of his faithful servant lolaus, he burned 
away the heads of the Hydra, and buried the ninth or 
immortal one under a huge rock. / 

Another labor was the cleaning of the Augean stables. 
Augeas, king of Elis, had a herd of three thousand oxen, 
whose stalls had not been cleansed for thirty years. Her- 
cules brought the rivers Alpheus and Peneus through 
them, and cleansed them thoroughly in one day. 

His next labor was of a more delicate kind. Admeta, 
the daughter of Eurystheus, longed to obtain the girdle 
of the queen of the Amazons, and Eurystheus ordered 
Hercules to go and get it. The Amazons were a nation 



. HERCULES 145 

of women. They were very warlike and held several 
flourishing cities. It was their custom to bring up only 
the female children ; the boys were either sent away to 
the neighboring nations or put to death. Hercules was 
accompanied by a number of volunteers, and after vari- 
ous adventures at last reached the country of the /^Lma- 
zons. Hippolyta, the queen, received him kindly, and 
consented to yield him her girdle, but Juno, taking the 
form of an Amazon, went and persuaded the rest that 
the strangers were carrying oft' their queen. They in- 
stantly armed and came in great numbers down to the 
ship. Hercules, thinking that Hippolyta had acted 
treacherously, slew her, and taking her girdle made sail 
homewards. 

Another task enjoined him was to bring to Eurystheus 
the oxen of Geryon, a monster with three bodies, who 
dwelt in the island Erytheia (the red), so called because 
it lay at the west, uaider the rays of the setting sun. 
This description is thought to apply to Spain, of which 
Geryon was king. After traversing various countries, 
Hercules reached at length the frontiers of Libya and 
Europe, where he raised the two mountains of Calpe and 
Abyla, as monuments of his progress, or, according to 
another account, rent one mountain into two and left half 
on each side, forming the straits of Gibraltar, the two 
mountains being called the Pillars of Hercules. The 
oxen were guarded by the giant Eurytion and his two- 
headed dog, but Hercules killed the giant and his dog 
and brought away the oxen in safety to Eurystheus. 

The most difficult labor of all was getting the golden 
apples of the Hesperides, for Hercules did not know 
where to find them. These were the apples which Juno 
had received at her wedding from the goddess of the 
Earth, and which she had intrusted to the keeping of 
the daughters of Hesperus, assisted by a watchful dragon. 
After various adventures Hercules arrived at Mount 
Atlas in Africa. Atlas was one of the Titans who had 
warred against the gods, and after they were subdued, 
Atlas was condemned to bear on his shoulders the weight 
of the heavens. He was the father of the Hesperides, 
and Hercules thought might, if any one could, find the 



146 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

apples and bring them to him. But how to send Atlas 
away from his post, or bear up the heavens while he 
was gone? Hercules took the burden on his own shoul- 
ders, and sent Atlas to seek the apples. He returned 
with them, and though somewhat reluctantly, took his 
burden upon his shoulders again, and let Hercules re- 
turn with the apples to Eurystheus. 

Milton, in his "Comus," makes the Hesperides the 
daughters of Hesperus and nieces of Atlas : 

". . . amidst the gardens fair 
Of Hesperus and his daughters three, 
That sing about the golden tree." 

The poets, led by the analogy of the lovely appear- 
ance of the western sky at sunset, viewed the west as 
a region of brightness and glory. Hence they placed in 
it the Isles of the Blest, the ruddy Isle Erythea, on 
which the bright oxen of Geryon were pastured, and 
the Isle of the Hesperides. The apples are supposed 
by some to be the oranges of Spain, of which the Greeks 
had heard some obscure accounts. 

A celebrated exploit of Hercules was his victory over 
Antseus. Antaeus, the son of Terra, the Earth, was a 
mighty giant and wrestler, whose strength was invincible 
so long as he remained in contact with his mother Earth. 
He compelled all strangers who came to his country to 
wrestle with him, on condition that if conquered (as 
they all were) they should be put to death. Hercules 
encountered him, and finding that it /Was of no avail 
to throw him, for he always rose with renewed strength 
from every fall, he lifted him up from the earth and 
strangled him in the air. 

Cacus was a huge giant, who inhabited a cave on 
Mount Aventine, and plundered the surrounding coun- 
try. When Hercules was driving home the oxen of 
Geryon, Cacus stole part of the cattle, while the hero 
slept. That their footprints might not serve to show 
where they had been driven, he dragged them back- 



HERCULES 147 

ward by their tails to his cave ; so their tracks all seemed 
to show that they had gone in the opposite direction. 
Hercules was deceived by this stratagem, and would have 
failed to find his oxen, if it had not happened that in 
driving the remainder of the herd past the cave where 
the stolen ones were concealed, those within began to 
low, and were thus discovered. Cacus was slain by 
Hercules. 

The last exploit we shall record was bringing Cerberus 
from the lower world. Hercules descended into Hades, 
accompanied by Mercury and Minerva. He obtained 
permission from Pluto to carry Cerberus to the upper 
air, provided he could do it without the use of weapons ; 
and in spite of the monster's struggling, he seized him, 
held him fast, and carried him to Eurystheus, and after- 
wards brought him back again. When he was in Hades 
he obtained the liberty of Theseus, his admirer and 
imitator, who had been detained a prisoner there for an 
unsuccessful attempt to carry off Proserpine. 

Hercules in a fit of madness killed his friend Iphitus, 
and was condemned for this offence to become the slave 
of Queen Omphale for three years. While in this service 
the hero's nature seemed changed. He lived effeminately, 
wearing at times the dress of a woman, and spinning 
wool with the hand-maidens of Omphale, while the queen 
wore his lion's skin. When this service was ended 
he married Dejanira and lived in peace with her three 
years. On one occasion as he was travelling with his 
wife, they came to a river, across which the Centaur 
Nessus carried travellers for a stated fee. Hercules 
himself forded the river, but gave Dejanira to Nessus 
to be carried across. Nessus attempted to run away with 
her, but Hercules heard her cries and shot an arrow 
into the heart of Nessus. The dying Centaur told De- 
janira lO take a portion of his blood and keep it, as it 
might be used as a charm to preserve the love of her 
husband. 

Dejanira did so and before long fancied she had occa- 
sion to use it. Hercules in one of his conquests had 
taken prisoner a fair maiden, named lole, of whom he 
seemed more fond than Dejanira approved. When Her- 



148 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

cules was about to offer sacrifices to the gods in honor 
of his victory, he sent to his wife for a white robe to 
use on the occasion. Dejanira, thinking it a good oppor- 
tunity to try her love-spell, steeped the garment in the 
blood of Nessus. We are to suppose she took care 
to wash out all traces of it, but the magic power re- 
mamed, and as soon as the garment became warm on 
the body of Hercules the poison penetrated into all his 
limbs and caused him the most intense agony. In his 
frenzy he seized Lichas, who had brought him the fatal 
robe, and hurled him into the sea. He wrenched off the 
garment, but it stuck to his flesh, and with it he tore 
away whole pieces of his body. In this state he em- 
barked on board a ship and was conveyed home. Deja- 
nira, on seeing what she had unwittingly done, hung 
herself. Hercules, prepared to die, ascended Mount GLta, 
where he built a funeral pile of trees, gave his bow and 
arrows to Philoctetes, and laid himself down on the pile, 
his head resting on his club, and his lion's skin spread 
over him. With a countenance as serene as if he were 
taking his place at a festal board he commanded Philoc- 
tetes to apply the torch. The flames spread apace and 
soon invested the whole mass. 

Milton thus alludes to the frenzy of Hercules : 

"As when Alcides/ from CEchalia crowned 
With conquest, felt the envenomed robe, and tore, 
Through pain, up by the roots Thessalian pines 
And Lichas from the top of CEta threw 
Into the Euboic Sea." 

The gods themselves felt troubled at^seeing the cham- 
pion of the earth so brought to his end. But Jupiter 
with cheerful countenance thus addressed them: "I am 
pleased to see your concern, my princes, and am gratified 
to perceive that I am the ruler of a loyal people, and 
that my son enjoys your favor. For although your in- 
terest in him arises from his noble deeds, yet it is not 
the less gratifying to me. But now I say to you, Fear 
not. He who conquered all else is not to be conquered 

^ Alcides, a name of Hercules. 



HERCULES 149 

by those flames which you see blazing on Mount (Eta. 
Only his mother's share in him can perish; what he 
derived from me is immortal. I shall take him, dead 
to earth, to the heavenly shores, and I require of you 
all to receive him kindly. If any of you feel grieved 
at his attaining this honor, yet no one can deny that he 
has deserved it." The gods all gave their assent ; Juno 
only heard the closing words with some displeasure that 
she should be so particularly pointed at, yet not enough 
to make her regret the determination of her husband. 
So when the flames had consumed the mother's share 
of Hercules, the diviner part, instead of being injured 
thereby, seemed to start forth with new vigor, to assume 
a more lofty port and a more awful dignity. Jupiter 
enveloped him in a cloud, and took him up in a four- 
horse chariot to dwell among the stars. As he took his 
place in heaven. Atlas felt the added weight. 

Juno, now reconciled to him, gave him her daughter 
Hebe in marriage. 

The poet Schiller, in one of his pieces called the "Ideal 
and Life," illustrates the contrast between the practical 
and the imaginative in some beautiful stanzas, of which 
the last two may be thus translated : 

"Deep degraded to a coward's slave, 
Endless contests bore Alcides brave, 
Through the thorny path of suffering led; 
Slew the Hj'dra, crushed the lion's might, 
Threw himself, to bring his friend to light, 
Living, in the skiff that bears the dead. 
All the torments, every toil of earth 
Juno's hatred on him could impose. 
Well he bore them, from his fated birth 
To life's grandly mournful close. 

"Till the god, the earthly part forsaken, 
From the man in flames asunder taken. 
Drank the heavenly ether's purer breath. 
Joyous in the new unwonted lightness. 
Soared he upwards to celestial brightness, 
Earth's dark heavy burden lost in death. 
High Olympus gives harmonious greeting 
To the hall where reigns his sire adored; 
Youth's bright goddess, with a blush at meeting. 
Gives the nectar to her lord." 5". G. B. 



150 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



HEBE AND GANYMEDE 

Hebe, the daughter of Juno, and goddess of youth, 
was cup-bearer to the gods. The usual story is that 
she resigned her office on becoming the wife of Her- 
cules. But there is another statement which our coun- 
tryman Crawford, the sculptor, has adopted in his group 
of Hebe and Ganymede, now in the Athenaeum gallery. 
According to this, Hebe was dismissed from her office 
in consequence of a fall which she met with one day 
when in attendance on the gods. Her successor was 
Ganymede, a Trojan boy, whom Jupiter, in the disguise 
of an eagle, seized and carried ofif from the midst of 
his playfellows on Mount Ida, bore up to heaven, and 
installed in the vacant place. 

Tennyson, in his "Palace of Art," describes among 

the decorations on the walls a picture representing this 

legend : 

"There, too, flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh 
Half buried in the eagle's down, 
Sole as a flying star shot through the sky 
Above the pillared town." 

And in Shelley's "Prometheus" Jupiter calls to his 
cup-bearer thus : 

"Pour forth heaven's wine, Idsean Ganymede, 
And let it fill the Daedal cups like fire." 

The beautiful legend of the "Choice of Hercules" may 

be found in the "Tatler," No. 97. 



CHAPTER XX 

THESEUS D^DALUS CASTOR AND POLLUX 
THESEUS 

Theseus was the son of ^geus, king of Athens, and 
of ^thra, daughter of the king of Troezen. He was 
brought up at Troezen, and when arrived at manhood 
was to proceed to Athens and present himself to his 



THESEUS 151 

father, ^geus on parting from ^thra, before the birth 
of his son, placed his sword and shoes under a large 
stone and directed her to send his son to him when he 
became strong enough to roll away the stone and take 
them from under it. When she thought the time had 
come, his mother led Theseus to the stone, and he re- 
moved it with ease and took the sword and shoes. As 
the roads were infested with robbers, his grandfather 
pressed him earnestly to take the shorter and safer way 
to his father's country by sea ; but the youth, feeling 
in himself the spirit and the soul of a hero, and eager 
to signalize himself like Hercules, with whose fame all 
Greece then rang, by destroying the evil-doers and mon- 
sters that oppressed the country, determined on the 
more perilous and adventurous journey by land. 

His first day's journey brought him to Epidaurus, 
where dwelt a jnan named Periphetes, a son of Vulcan. 
This ferocious savage always went armed with a club 
of iron, and all travellers stood in terror of his violence. 
When he saw Theseus approach he assailed him, but 
speedily fell beneath the blows of the young hero, who 
took possession of his club and bore it ever afterwards 
as a memorial of his first victory. 

Several similar contests with the petty tyrants and 
marauders of the country followed, in all of which 
Theseus was victorious. One of these evil-doers was 
called Procrustes, or the Stretcher. He had an iron 
bedstead, on which he used to tie all travellers who 
fell into his hands. If they were shorter than the bed, 
he stretched their limbs to make them fit it ; if they 
were longer than the bed, he lopped off a portion. The- 
seus served him as he had served others. 

Having overcome all the perils of the road, Theseus 
at length reached Athens, where new dangers awaited 
him. Medea, the sorceress, who had fled from Corinth 
after her separation from Jason, had become the wife 
of ^geus, the father of Theseus. Knowing by her arts 
who he was, and fearing the loss of her influence with 
her husband if Theseus should be acknowledged as his 
son, she filled the mind of iEgeus with suspicions of 
the young straiiger, and induced him to present him a 
cup of poison; but at the moment when Theseus stepped 



152 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

forward to take it, the sight of the sword which he 
wore discovered to his father who he was, and prevented 
the fatal draught. Medea, detected in her arts, fled 
once more from deserved punishment, and arrived in 
Asia, where the country afterwards called Media re- 
ceived its name from her. Theseus was acknowledged 
by his father, and declared his successor. 

The Athenians were at that time in deep affliction, on 
account of the tribute which they were forced to pay 
to Minos, king of Crete. This tribute consisted of 
seven youths and seven maidens, who were sent every 
year to be devoured by the Minotaur, a monster with 
a bull's body and a human head. It was exceedingly 
strong and fierce, and was kept in a labyrinth constructed 
by Daedalus, so artfully contrived that whoever was en- 
closed in it could by no meanj, find his way out unas- 
sisted. Here the Minotaur roamed, and was fed with 
human victims. 

Theseus resolved to deliver his countrymen from 
this calamity, or to die in the attempt. Accordingly, when 
the time of sending off the tribute came, and the youths 
and maidens were, according to custom, drawn by lot to 
be sent, he offered himself as one of the victims, in 
spite of the entreaties of his father. The ship departed 
under black sails, as usual, which Theseus promised his 
father to change for white, in case of his returning vic- 
torious. When they arrived in Crete, the youths and 
maidens were exhibited before Minos ; and Ariadne, the 
daughter of the king, being present, became deeply enam- 
ored of Theseus, by whom her love was readily returned. 
She furnished him with a sword, with which to encoun- 
ter the Minotaur, and with a clew of tiiread by which he 
might find his way out of the labyrinth. He was suc- 
cessful, slew the Minotaur, escaped from the labyrinth, 
and taking Ariadne as the companion of his way, with his 
rescued companions sailed for Athens. On their way 
they stopped at the island of Naxos, where Theseus 
abandoned Ariadne, leaving her asleep.^ His excuse for 

^ One of the finest pieces of sculpture in Italy, the recumbent Ariadne 
of the Vatican, represents this incident. A copy is owned by the 
Athenaeum, Boston, and deposited in the Museum of Fine Arts. 



THESEUS 153 

this ungrateful treatment of his benefactress was that 
Minerva appeared to him in a dream and commanded him 
to do so. 

On approaching the coast of Attica, Theseus forgot 
the signal appointed by his father, and neglected to raise 
the white sails, and the old king, thinking his son had 
perished, put an end to his own life. Theseus thus became 
king of Athens. 

One of the most celebrated of the adventures of The- 
seus is his expedition against the Amazons. He assailed 
them before they had recovered from the attack of 
Hercules, and carried off their queen Antiope. The 
Amazons in their turn invaded the country of Athens and 
penetrated into the city itself ; and the final battle in 
which Theseus overcame them was fought in the very 
midst of the city. This battle was one of the favorite 
subjects of the ancient sculptors, and is commemorated 
in several works of art that are still extant. 

The friendship between Theseus and Pirithous was 
of a most intimate nature, yet it originated in the midst 
of arms. Pirithous had made an irruption into the plain 
of Marathon, and carried off the herds of the king of 
Athens. Theseus went to repel the plunderers. The 
moment Pirithous beheld him, he was seized with admi- 
ration ; he stretched out his hand as a token of peace, 
and cried, "Be judge thyself what satisfaction dost thou 
require?" "Thy friendship," replied the Athenian, and 
they swore inviolable fidelity. Their deeds corresponded 
to their professions, and they ever continued true brothers 
in arms. Each of them aspired to espouse a daughter 
of Jupiter. Theseus fixed his choice on Helen, then but 
a child, afterwards so celebrated as the cause of the 
Trojan war, and with the aid of his friend he carried 
her off. Pirithous aspired to the wife of the monarch 
of Erebus ; and Theseus, though aware of the danger, 
accompanied the ambitious lover in his descent to the 
under-world. But Pluto seized and set them on an en- 
chanted rock at his palace gate, where they remained 
till Hercules arrived and liberated Theseus, leaving Pi- 
rithous to his fate. 

After the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phae- 



154 STORIES OF GODS AND HETvOES 

dra, daughter of Minos, king of Crete. Phaedra saw in 
Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, a youth endowed with 
all the graces and virtues of his father, and of an age 
corresponding to her own. She loved him, but he re- 
pulsed her advances, and her love was changed to hate. 
She used her influence over her infatuated husband to 
cause him to be jealous of his son, and he imprecated the 
vengeance of Neptune upon him. As Hippolytus was one 
day driving his chariot along the shore, a sea-monster 
raised himself above the waters, and frightened the 
horses so that they ran away and dashed the chariot to 
pieces. Hippolytus was killed, but by Diana's assistance 
^sculapius restored him to life. Diana removed Hip- 
polytus from the power of his deluded father and false 
stepmother, and placed him in Italy under the protection 
of the nymph Egeria. 

Theseus at length lost the favor of his people, and 
retired to the court of Lycomedes, king of Scyros, who 
at first received him kindly, but afterwards treacherously 
slew him. In a later age the Athenian general Cimon 
discovered the place where his remains were laid, and 
caused them to be removed to Athens, where they were 
deposited in a temple called the Theseum, erected in 
honor of the hero. 

The queen of the Amazons whom Theseus espoused 
is by some called Hippolyta. That is the name she bears 
in Shakspeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream," the 
subject of which is the festivities attending the nup- 
tials of Theseus and Hippolyta. 

Mrs. Hemans has a poem on the ancient Greek tra- 
dition that the "Shade of Theseus" appeared strength- 
ening his countrymen at the battle of Marathon. 

Theseus is a semi-historical personage. It is record- 
ed of him that he united the several tribes by whom 
the territory of Attica was then possessed into one 
state, of which Athens was the capital. In commemora- 
tion of this important event, he instituted the festival 
of Panathensea, in honor of Minerva, the patron deity 
of Athens. This festival differed from the other Gre- 
cian games chiefly in two particulars. It was peculiar 



OLYMPIC AND OTHER GAMES 155 

to the Athenians, and its chief feature was a solemn 
procession in which the Peplus, or sacred robe of 
Minerva, was carried to the Parthenon, and suspended 
before the statue of the goddess. The Peplus was cov- 
ered with embroidery, worked by select virgins of the 
noblest families in Athens. The procession consisted of 
persons of all ages and both sexes. The old men car- 
ried olive branches in their hands, and the young men 
bore arms. The young women carried baskets on their 
heads, containing the sacred utensils, cakes, and all 
things necessary for the sacrifices. The procession 
formed the subject of the bas-reliefs which embellished 
the outside of the temple of the Parthenon. A con- 
siderable portion of these sculptures is now in the Brit- 
ish Museum among those known as the ''Elgin marbles." 

OLYMPIC AND OTHER GAMES 

It seems not inappropriate to mention here the other 
celebrated national games of the Greeks. The first and 
most distinguished were the Olympic, founded, it was 
said, by Jupiter himself. They were celebrated at Olym- 
pia in Elis. Vast numbers of spectators flocked to them 
from every part of Greece, and from Asia, Africa, and 
Sicily. They were repeated every fifth year in mid- 
summer, and continued five days. They gave rise to 
the custom of reckoning time and dating events by 
Olympiads. The first Olympiad is generally consid- 
ered as corresponding with the year 776 B.C. The 
Pythian games were celebrated in the vicinity of Delphi, 
the Isthmian on the Corinthian isthmus, the Nemean at 
Nemea, a city of Argolis. 

The exercises in these games were of five sorts : run- 
ning, leaping, wrestling, throwing the quoit, and hurl- 
ing the javelin, or boxing. Besides these exercises of 
bodily strength and agility, there were contests in music, 
poetry, and eloquence. Thus these games furnished 
poets, musicians, and authors the best opportunities to 
present their productions to the public, and the fame of 
the victors was diffused far and wide. 



156 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



D^DALUS 

The labyrinth from which Theseus escaped by means 
of the clew of Ariadne was built by Daedalus, a most 
skilful artificer. It was an edifice with numberless wind- 
ing passages and turnings opening into one another, and 
seeming to have neither beginning nor end, like the river 
Mseander, which returns on itsdf, and flows now on- 
ward, now backward, in its course to the sea. Daedal as 
built the labyrinth for King Minos, but afterwards lost 
the favor of the king, and was shut up in a tower. He 
contrived to make his escape from his prison, but could 
not leave the island by sea, as the king kept strict watch 
on all the vessels, and permitted none to sail without 
being carefully searched. "Minos may control the land 
and sea," said Daedalus, "but not the regions of the air. 
I will try that way." So he set to work to fabricate 
wings for himself and his young son Icarus. He 
wrought feathers together, beginning with the smallest 
and adding larger, so as to form an increasing surface. 
The larger ones he secured with thread and the smaller 
with wax, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like 
the wings of a bird. Icarus, the boy, stood and looked 
on, sometimes running to gather up the feathers which 
the wind had blown away, and then handling the wax 
and working it over with his fingers, by his play im- 
peding his father in his labors. When at last the work 
was done, the artist, waving his wings, found himself 
buoyed upward, and hung suspended, poising himself on 
the beaten air. He next equipped his son in the same 
manner, and taught him how to fly, as a bird tempts her 
young ones from the lofty nest into the air. When all 
was prepared for flight he said, "Icarus, my son, I 
charge you to keep at a moderate height, for if you 
fly too low the damp will clog your wings, and if too 
high the heat will melt them. Keep near me and you 
will be safe." While he gave him these instructions and 
fitted the wings to his shoulders, the face of the father 
was wet with tears, and his hands trembled. He kissed 
the boy, not knowing that it was for the last time. Then 
rising on his wings, he flew off, encouraging him to fol- 



D;EDALUS 157 

low, and looked back from his own flight to see how 
his son managed his wings. As they flew the plough- 
man stopped his work to gaze, and the shepherd leaned 
on his staft' and watched them, astonished at the sight, 
and thinking they were gods who could thus cleave 
the air. 

They passed Samos and Delos on the left and Leb- 
ynthos on the right, when the boy, exulting in his ca- 
reer, began to leave the guidance of his companion and 
soar upward as if to reach heaven. The nearness of 
the blazing sun softened the wax which held the feathers 
together, and they came off. He fluttered with his arms, 
but no feathers remained to hold the air. While his 
mouth uttered cries to his father it was submerged in 
the blue waters of the sea, which thenceforth was called 
by his name. His father cried, "Icarus, Icarus, where 
are you?" At last he saw the feathers floating on the 
water, and bitterly lamenting his own arts, he buried 
the body and called the land Icaria in memory of his 
child. Dasdalus arrived safe in Sicily, where he built 
a temple to Apollo, and hung up his wings, an offering 
to the god. 

Daedalus was so proud of his achievements that he 
could not bear the idea of a rival. His sister had placed 
her son Perdix under his charge to be taught the me- 
chanical arts. He was an apt scholar and gave strik- 
ing evidences of ingenuity. Walking on the seashore 
he picked up the spine of a fish. Imitating it, he took 
a piece of iron and notched it on the edge, and thus 
invented the sazv. He put two pieces of iron together, 
connecting them at one end with a rivet, and sharpen- 
ing the other ends, and made a pair of compasses. 
Daedalus was so envious of his nephew's performances 
that he took an opportunity, when they were together 
one day on the top of a hig;ti tower, to push him off. 
But Minerva, who favors ingenuity, saw him falling, 
and arrested his fate by changing him into a bird called 
after his name, the Partridge. This bird does not build 
his nest in the trees, nor take lofty flights, but nestles 
in the hedges, and mindful of his fall, avoids high 
places. 



158 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

The death of Icarus is told in the following lines by 
Darwin : 

". . . with melting wax and loosened strings 
Sunk hapless Icarus on unfaithful wings; 
Headlong he rushed through the affrighted air, 
With limbs distorted and dishevelled hair ; 
His scattered plumage danced upon the wave, 
And sorrowing Nereids decked his watery grave; 
O'er his pale corse their pearly sea-flowers shed, 
And strewed with crimson moss his marble bed; 
Struck in their coral towers the passing bell, 
And wide in ocean tolled his echoing knell." 



CASTOR AND POLLUX 

Castor and Pollux were the offspring of Leda and 
the Swan, under which disguise Jupiter had concealed 
himself. Leda gave birth to an egg from which sprang 
the twins. Helen, so famous afterwards as the cause 
of the Trojan war, was their sister. 

When Theseus and his friend Pirithous had carried 
off Helen from Sparta, the youthful heroes Castor and 
Pollux, with their followers, hastened to her rescue. 
Theseus was absent from Attica and the brothers were 
successful in recovering their sister. 

Castor was famous for taming and managing horses, 
and Pollux for skill in boxing. They were united by 
the warmest affection and inseparable in all their en- 
terprises. They accompanied the Argonautic expedition. 
During the voyage a storm arose, and Orpheus prayed 
to the Samothracian gods, and played on his harp, 
whereupon the storm ceased and stars appeared on the 
heads of the brothers. From this in^dent, Castor and 
Pollux came afterwards to be considered the patron 
deities of seamen and voyagers, and the lambent flames, 
which in certain states of the atmosphere play round the 
sails and masts of vessels, were called by their names. 

After the Argonautic expedition, we find Castor and 
Pollux engaged in a war with Idas and Lynceus. Cas- 
tor was slain, and Pollux, inconsolable for the loss of 
his brother, besought Jupiter to be permitted to give 
his own life as a ransom for him. Jupiter so far con- 



CASTOR AND POLLUX 159 

sented as to allow the two brothers to enjoy the boon 
of life alternately, passing one day under the earth and 
the next in the heavenly abodes. According to another 
form of the story, Jupiter rewarded the attachment of 
the brothers by placing them among the stars as Gemini 
the Twins. 

They received divine honors under the name af 
Dioscuri (sons of Jove). They were believed to have 
appeared occasionally in later times, taking part with 
one side or the other, in hard-fought fields, and were 
said on such occasions to be mounted on magnificent 
white steeds. Thus in the early history of Rome they 
are said to have assisted the Romans at the battle of 
Lake Regillus, and after the victory a temple was erected 
in their honor on the spot where they appeared. 

Macaulay, in his "Lays of Ancient Rome," thus al- 
ludes to the legend : 

"So like they were, no mortal 

Might one from other know ; 
White as snow their armor was, 

Their steeds were white as snow. 
Never on earthly anvil 

Did such rare armor gleam, 
And never did such gallant steeds 

Drink of an earthly stream. 



'Back comes the chief in triumph 

Who in the hour of fight 
Hath seen the great Twin Brethren 

In harness on his right. 
Safe comes the ship to haven, 

Through billows and through gales. 
If once the great Twin Brethren 

Sit shining on the sails." 



160 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

CHAPTER XXI 

B ACCH US ARIADNE 
BACCHUS 

Bacchus was the son of Jupiter and Semele. Juno, 
to gratify her resentment against Semele, contrived a 
plan for her destruction. Assuming the form of Beroe, 
her aged nurse, she insinuated doubts whether it was 
indeed Jove himself who came as a lover. Heaving a 
sigh, she said, "I hope it will turn out so, but I can't 
help being afraid. People are not always what they 
pretend to be. If he is indeed Jove, make him give 
some proof of it. Ask him to come arrayed in all his 
splendors, such as he wears in heaven. That will put 
the matter beyond a doubt." Semele was persuaded to 
try the experiment. She asks a favor, without nam- 
ing what it is. Jove gives his promise, and confirms it 
with the irrevocable oath, attesting the river Styx, ter- 
rible to the gods themselves. Then she made known her 
request. The god would have stopped her as she spake, 
but she was too quick for him. The words escaped, 
and he could neither unsay his promise nor her request. 
In deep distress he left her and returned to the upper 
regions. There he clothed himself in his splendors, not 
putting on all his terrors, as when he overthrew the 
giants, but what is known among the gods as his lesser 
panoply. Arrayed in this, he entered the chamber of 
Semele. Her mortal frame could not endure the splen- 
dors of the immortal radiance. She /was consumed to 
ashes. ' 

Jove took the infant Bacchus and gave him in charge 
to the Nyssean nymphs, who nourished his infancy and 
childhood, and for their care were rewarded by Jupiter 
by being- placed, as the Hyades, among the stars. When 
Bacchus grew up he discovered the culture of the vine 
and the mode of extracting its precious juice; but Juno 
struck him with madness, and drove him forth a wan- 
derer through various parts of the earth. In Phrygia 



BACCHUS 161 

the godaess Rhea cured him and taught him her re- 
ligious rites, and he set out on a progress through Asia, 
teaching the people the cultivation of the vine. The 
most famous part of his wanderings is his expedition to 
India, which is said to have lasted several years. Re- 
turning in triumph, he undertook to introduce his wor- 
ship into Greece, but was opposed by some princes, who 
dreaded its introduction on account of the disorders and 
madness it brought with it. 

As he approached his native city Thebes, Pentheus 
the king, who had no respect for the new worship, for- 
bade its rites to be performed. But when it was known 
that Bacchus was advancing, men and women, but 
chiefly the latter, young and old, poured forth to meet 
him and to join his triumphal march. 

Mr. Longfellow in his "Drinking Song" thus describes 
the march of Bacchus : 

"Fauns with youthful Bacchus follow; 

Ivy crowns that brow, supernal 
As the forehead of Apollo, 
And possessing youth eternal. 

"Round about him fair Bacchantes, 
Bearing cymbals, flutes and thyrses, 
Wild from Naxian groves of Zante's 
Vineyards, sing delirious verses." 

It was in vain Pentheus remonstrated, commanded, 
and threatened. "Go," said he to his attendants, "seize 
this vagabond leader of the rout and bring him to me. 
Lwill soon make him confess his false claim of heavenly 
parentage and renounce his counterfeit worship." It was 
in vain his nearest friends and wisest counsellors remon- 
strated and begged him not to oppose the god. Their 
remonstrances only made him more violent. 

But now the attendants returned whom he had de- 
spatched to seize Bacchus. They had been driven away 
by the Bacchanals, but had succeeded in taking one of 
them prisoner, whom, with his hands tied behind him, 
they brought before the king. Pentheus, beholding him 
with wrathful countenance, said, "Fellow ! you shall 



162 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

speedily be put to death, that your fate may be a warn- 
ing to others; but though I grudge the delay of your 
punishment, speak, tell us who you are, and what are 
these new rites you presume to celebrate." 

The prisoner, unterrified, responded, "My name is 
Acetes; my country is Maeonia; my parents were poor 
people, who had no fields or flocks to leave me, but 
they left me their fishing rods and nets and their fisher- 
man's trade. This I followed for some time, till grow- 
ing weary of remaining in one place, I learned the pilot's 
art and how to guide my course by the stars. It hap- 
pened as I was sailing for Delos we touched at the 
island of Dia and went ashore. Next morning I sent 
the men for fresh water, and myself mounted the hill 
to observe the wind; when my men returned bringing 
with them a prize, as they thought, a boy of delicate 
appearance, whom they had found asleep. They judged 
he was a noble youth, perhaps a king's son, and they 
might get a liberal ransom for him. I observed his 
dress, his walk, his face. There was something in them 
which I felt sure was more than mortal. I said to my 
men, 'What god there is concealed in that form I know 
not, but some one there certainly is. Pardon us, gentle 
deity, for the violence we have done you, and give suc- 
cess to our undertakings.' Dictys, one of my best hands 
for climbing the mast and coming down by the ropes, 
and Melanthus, my steersman, and Epopeus, the leader 
of the sailor's cry, one and all exclaimed, 'Spare your 
prayers for us.' So blind is the lust of gain ! When 
they proceeded to put him on board I resisted them. 
'This ship shall not be profaned by such impiety,' said 
I. 'I have a greater share in her than any of you.' But 
Lycabas, a turbulent fellow, seized me by the throat 
and attempted to throw me overboard, and I scarcely 
saved myself by clinging to the ropes. The rest ap- 
proved the deed. 

"Then Bacchus (for it was indeed he), as if shaking 
off his drowsiness, exclaimed, 'What are you doing with 
me? What is this fighting about? Who brought me 
here? Where are you going to carry me?' One of 
them replied, 'Fear nothing; tell us where you wish 



BACCHUS 163 

to go and we will take you there.' 'Naxos is my home,' 
said Bacchus; 'take me there and you shall be well re- 
warded.' They promised so to do, and told me to pilot 
the ship to Naxos. Naxos lay to the right, and I was 
trimming the sails to carry" us there, when some by signs 
and others by whispers signified to me their will that I 
should sail in the opposite direction, and take the boy 
to Egypt to sell him for a slave. I was confounded and 
said, 'L.et some one else pilot the ship ;' withdrawing my- 
self from any further agency in their wickedness. They 
cursed me, and one of them, exclaiming, 'Don't flatter 
yourself that we depend on you for our safety,' took 
my place as pilot, and bore away from Naxos. 

"Then the god, pretending that he had just become 
aware of their treachery, looked out over the sea and 
said in a voice of weeping, 'Sailors, these are not the 
shores you promised to take me to; yonder island is 
not my home. What have I done that you should treat 
me so? It is small glory you will gain by cheating a 
poor boy.' I wept to hear him, but the crew laughed 
at both of us, and sped the vessel fast over the sea. All 
at once strange as it may seem, it is true, the vessel 
stopped, in the mid sea, as fast as if it was fixed on 
the ground. The men, astonished, pulled at their oars, 
and spread more sail, trying to make progress by the 
aid of both, but all in vain. Ivy twined round the oars 
and hindered their motion, and clung to the sails, with 
heavy clusters of berries. A vine, laden with grapes, 
ran up the mast, and along the sides of the vessel. The 
sound of flutes was heard and the odor of fragrant wine 
spread all around. The god himself had a chaplet of 
vine leaves, and bore in his hand a spear wreathed with 
ivy. Tigers crouched at his feet, and forms of lynxes 
and spotted panthers played around him. The men were 
seized with terror or madness ; some leaped overboard ; 
others preparing to do the same beheld their compan- 
ions in the water undergoing a change, their bodies 
becoming flattened and ending in a crooked tail. One 
exclaimed, 'What miracle is this !' and as he spoke his 
mouth widened, his nostrils expanded, and scales cov- 
ered all his body. Another, endeavoring to pull the oar. 



164 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

felt his hands shrink lip and presently to be no longer 
hands but fins; another, trying to raise his arms to a 
rope, found he had no arms, and curving his mutilated 
body, jumped into the sea. What had been his legs 
became the two ends of a crescent-shaped tail. The 
whole crew became dolphins and swam about the ship, 
now upon the surface, now under it, scattering the 
spray, and spouting the water from their broad nostrils. 
Of twenty men I alone was left. Trembling with fear, 
the god cheered me. 'Fear not,' said he ; 'steer towards 
Naxos.' I obeyed, and when we arrived there, I kindled 
the altars and celebrated the sacred rites of Bacchus." 

Pentheus here exclaimed, "We have wasted time 
enough on this silly story. Take him away and have 
him executed without delay." Acetes was led away by 
the attendants and shut up fast in prison; but while 
they were getting ready the instruments of execution 
the prison doors came open of their own accord and the 
chains fell from his limbs, and when they looked for 
him he was nowhere to be found. 

Pentheus would take no v/arning, but instead of send- 
ing others, determined to go himself to the scene of 
the solemnities. The mountain Citheron was all alive 
with worshippers, and the cries of the Bacchanals re- 
sounded on every side. The noise roused the anger of 
Pentheus as the sound of a trumpet does the fire of 
a war-horse. He penetrated through the wood and 
reached an open space where the chief scene of the 
orgies met his eyes. At the same moment the women 
saw him ; and first among them his own mother, Agave, 
blinded by the god, cried out, "See there the wild boar, 
the hugest monster that prowls in these woods ! Come 
on, sisters ! I will be the first to strike the wild boar." 
The whole band rushed upon him, and while he now 
talks less arrogantly, now excuses himself, and now con- 
fesses his crime and implores pardon, they press upon 
him and wound him. In vain he cries to his aunts to 
protect him from his mother. Autonoe seized one arm, 
Ino the other, and between them he was torn to pieces, 
while his mother shouted, "Victory ! Victory ! we have 
done it ; the glory is ours !" 



ARIADNE 165 

So the worship of Bacchus was established in Greece. 

There is an allusion to the story of Bacchus and the 
mariners in Milton's "Comus," at line 46. The story 
of Circe will be found in Chapter XXIX. 

"Bacchus that first from out the purple grapes 
Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine, 
' After the Tuscan mariners transformed, 

Coasting the Tyrrhene shore as the winds Hsted 
On Circe's island fell (who knows not Circe, 
The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed cup 
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape, 
And downward fell into a grovelling swine)." 

ARIADNE 

We have seen in the story of Theseus how Ariadne, 
the daughter of King Minos, after helping Theseus to 
escape from the labyrinth, was carried by him to the 
island of Naxos and was left there asleep, while the un- 
grateful Theseus pursued his way home without 'her. 
Ariadne, on waking and finding herself deserted, aban- 
doned herself to grief. But Venus took pity on her, and 
consoled her with the promise that she should have an 
immortal lover, instead of the mortal one she had lost. 

The island where Ariadne was left was the favorite 
island of Bacchus, the same that he wished the Tyrrhe- 
nian mariners to carry him to, when they so treacher- 
ously attempted to make prize of him. As Ariadne sat 
lamenting her fate, Bacchus found her, consoled her, 
and made her his wife. As a marriage present he gave 
her a golden crown, enriched with gems, and when she 
died, he took her crown and threw it up into the sky. 
As it mounted the gems grew brighter and were turned 
into stars, and preserving its form Ariadne's crown re- 
mains fixed in the heavens as a constellation, between 
the kneeling Hercules and the man who holds the ser- 
pent. 

Spenser alludes to Ariadne's crown, though he has 
made some mistakes in his mythology. It was at the 



166 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

wedding of Pirithous, and not Theseus, that the Cen- 
taurs and Lapithae quarrelled. 

"Look how the crown which Ariadne wore 
Upon her ivory forehead that same day 
That Theseus her unto his bridal bore, 
Then the bold Centaurs made that bloody fray 
With the fierce Lapiths which did them dismay; 
Being now placed in the firmament, 
Through the bright heaven doth her beams display, 
And is unto the stars an ornament. 
Which round about her move in order excellent." 



CHAPTER XXH 

THE RURAL DEITIES ERISICHTHON RHCECUS THE 

WATER DEITIES CAMEN^E WINDS 

THE RURAL DEITIES 

Pan, the god of woods and fields, of flocks and shep- 
herds, dwelt in grottos, wandered on the mountains and 
in valleys, and amused himself with the chase or in 
leading the dances of the nymphs. He was fond of 
music, and as we have seen, the inventor of the syrinx, 
or shepherd's pipe, which he himself played in a mas- 
terly manner. Pan, like other gods who dwelt in for- 
ests, was dreaded by those whose occupations caused 
them to pass through the woods by night, for the gloom 
and loneliness of such scenes dispose the mind to su- 
perstitious fears. Hence sudden fright without any 
visible cause was ascribed to Pan, ^d called a Panic 
terror. 

As the name of the god signifies all, Pan came to be 
considered a symbol of the universe and personification 
of Nature ; and later still to be regarded as a represen- 
tative of all the gods and of heathenism itself. 

Sylvanus and Faunus were Latin divinities, whose 
characteristics are so nearly the same as those of Pan 
that we may safely consider them as the same person- 
age under different names. 



THE RURAL DEITIES 167 

The wood-nymphs, Pan's partners in the dance, were 
but one class of nymphs. There were beside them the 
Naiads, who presided over brooks and fountains, the 
Oreads, nymphs of mountains and grottos, and the Ne- 
reids, sea-nymphs. The three last named were immor- 
tal, but the wood-nymphs, called Dryads or Hamadryads, 
were believed to perish with the trees which had been 
their abode and with which they had come into exist- 
ence. It was therefore an impious act wantonly to de- 
stroy a tree, and in some aggravated cases were severely 
punished, as in the instance of Erisichthon, which we 
are about to record. 

Milton in his glowing description of the early cre- 
ation, thus alludes to Pan as the personification of 

Nature : 

". . . Universal Pan, 
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance, 
Led on the eternal spring." 

And describing Eve's abode : 

". . . In shadier bower, 
More sacred or sequestered, though but feigned, 
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph 
Nor Faunus haunted." 

Paradise Lost, B. IV. 

It was a pleasing trait in the old Paganism that it 
loved to trace in every operation of nature the agency 
of deity. The imagination of the Greeks peopled all 
the regions of earth and sea with divinities, to whose 
agency it attributed those phenomena which our phi- 
losophy ascribes to the operation of the laws of nature. 
Sometimes in our poetical moods we feel disposed to 
regret the change, and to think that the heart has lost 
as much as the head has gained by the substitution. The 
poet Wordsworth thus strongly expresses this senti- 
ment: 

". . . Great God. I'd rather be- 
A Pagan, suckled in a creed outworn, 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea. 



168 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea, 
And hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn." 



Schiller, in his poem "Die Gotter Griechenlands," ex- 
presses his regret for the overthrow of the beautiful 
mythology of ancient times in a way which has called 
forth an answer from a Christian poet, Mrs. E. Bar- 
rett Browning, in her poem called "The Dead Pan." 
The two following verses are a specimen : 

"By your beauty which confesses 
Some chief Beauty conquering you, 
By our grand heroic guesses 
Through your falsehood at the True, 
We will weep 7iot! earth shall roll 
Heir to each god's aureole, 

And Pan is dead. 



'Earth outgrows the mythic fancies 
Sung beside her in her youth ; 
And those debonaire romances 
Sound but dull beside the truth. 
Phoebus' chariot course is run ! 
Look up, poets, to the sun ! 

Pan, Pan is dead.' 



These lines are founded on an early Christian tra- 
dition that when the heavenly host told the shepherds 
at Bethlehem of the birth of Christ, a deep groan, heard 
through all the isles of Greece, told that the great Pan 
was dead, and that all the royalty of Olympus was 
dethroned and the several deities were sent wandering 
in cold and darkness. So Milton in /his "Hymn on the 
Nativity" : 

"The lonely mountains o'er, 
And the resounding shore, 

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament; 
From haunted spring and dale. 
Edged with poplar pale. 

The parting Genius is with sighing sent; 
With flower-enwoven tresses torn. 
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets moufH." 



ERISICHTHON 169 



ERISICHTHON 

Erisichthon was a profane person and a despiser of 
the gods. On one occasion he presumed to violate with 
the axe a grove sacred to Ceres. There stood in this 
grove a venerable oak so large that it seemed a wood 
in itself, its ancient trunk towering aloft, whereon vo- 
tive garlands were often hung and inscriptions carved 
expressing the gratitude of suppliants to the nymph of 
the tree. Often had the Dryads danced round it hand 
in hand. Its trunk measured fifteen cubits round, and 
it overtopped the other trees as they overtopped the 
shrubbery. But for all that, Erisichthon saw no reason 
why he should spare it and he ordered his servants to 
cut it down. When he saw them hesitate he snatched 
an axe from one, and thus impiously exclaimed : "I care 
not whether it be a tre'e beloved of the goddess or not; 
were it the goddess herself it should come down if it 
stood in my way." So saying, he lifted the axe and the 
oak seemed to shudder and utter a groan. When the 
first blow fell upon the trunk blood flowed from the 
wound. All the bystanders were horror-struck, and one 
of them ventured to remonstrate and hold back the fatal 
axe. Erisichthon, with a scornful look, said to him, 
"Receive the reward of your piety;" and turned against 
him the weapon which he had held aside from the tree, 
gashed his body with many wounds, and cut oflf his 
head. Then from the midst of the oak came a voice, 
"I who dwell in this tree am a nymph beloved of Ceres, 
and dying by your hands forewarn you that punish- 
ment awaits you." He desisted not from his crime, and 
at last the tree, sundered by repeated blows and drawn 
by ropes, fell with a crash and prostrated a great part 
of the grove in its fall. 

The Dryads in dismay at the loss of their compan- 
ion and at seeing the pride of the forest laid low, went 
in a body to Ceres, all clad in garments of mourning, 
and invoked punishment upon Erisichthon. She nod- 
ded her assent, and as she bowed her head the grain 
ripe for harvest in the laden fields bowed also. She 
planned a punishment so dire that one wouM pity him, 



170 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

if such a culprit as he could be pitied, to deliver him 
over to Famine. As Ceres herself could not approach 
Famine, for the Fates have ordained that these two 
goddesses shall never come together, she called an 
Oread from her mountain and spoke to her in these 
words: "There is a place in the farthest part of ice- 
clad Scythia, a sad and sterile region without trees and 
without crops. Cold dwells there, and Fear and Shud- 
dering, and Famine. Go and tell the last to take pos- 
session of the bowels of Erisichthon. Let not abundance 
subdue her, nor the power of my gifts drive her away. 
Be not alarmed at the distance" (for Famine dwells 
very far from Ceres), "but take my chariot. The 
dragons are fleet and obey the rein, and will take you 
through the air in a short time." So she gave her the 
reins, and she drove away and soon reached Scythia. 
On arriving at Mount Caucasus' she stopped the drag- 
ons and found Famine in a stony field, pulling up with 
teeth and claws the scanty herbage. Her hair was 
rough, her eyes sunk, her face pale, her lips blanched, 
her jaws covered with dust, and her skin drawn tight, 
so as to show all her bones. As the Oread saw her 
afar ofif (for she did not dare to come near), she de- 
livered the commands of Ceres ; and, though she stopped 
as short a time as possible, and kept her distance as 
well as she could, yet she began to feel hungry, and 
turned the dragons' heads and drove back to Thessaly. 

Famine obeyed the commands of Ceres and sped 
through the air to the dwelling of Erisichthon, entered 
the bedchamber of the guilty man, and found him asleep. 
She enfolded him with her wings and breathed herself 
into him, infusing her poison into his veins. Having 
discharged her task, she hastened tc/leave the land of 
plenty and returned to her accustomed haunts. Erisich- 
thon still slept, and in his dreams craved food, and 
moved his jaws as if eating. When he awoke, his 
hunger was raging. Without a moment's delay he would 
have food set before him, of whatever kind earth, sea, 
or air produces; and complained of hunger even while 
he ate. What would have sufficed for a city or a na- 
tion, was not enough for him. The more he ate the 



ERISICHTHON 171 

more he craved. His hunger was hke the sea, which re- 
ceives all the rivers, yet is never filled; or like fire, 
that burns all the fuel that is heaped upon it, yet is still 
voracious for more. 

His property rapidly diminished under the unceasing 
demands of his appetite, but his hunger continued un- 
abated. At length he had spent all and had only his 
daughter left, a daughter worthy of a better parent. 
Her too he sold. She scorned to be the slave of a pur- 
chaser and as she stood by the seaside raised her hands 
in prayer to Neptune. He heard her prayer, and though 
her new master was not far ofif and had his eye upon 
her a moment before, Neptune changed her form and 
made her assume that of a fisherman busy at his oc- 
cupation. Her master, looking for her and seeing her 
in her altered form, addressed her and said, "Good 
fisherman, whither went the maiden whom I saw just 
now, with hair dishevelled and in humble garb, standing 
about where you stand? Tell me truly; so may your 
luck be good and not a fish nibble at your hook and get 
away." She perceived that her prayer was answered 
and rejoiced inwardly at hearing herself inquired of 
about herself. She replied, "Pardon me, stranger, but 
I have been so intent upon my line that I have seen 
nothing else; but I wish I may never catch another fish 
if I believe any woman or other person except myself 
to have been hereabouts for some time." He was de- 
ceived and went his way, thinking his slave had escaped. 
Then she resumed her own form. Her father was well 
pleased to find her still with him, and the money too that 
he got by the sale of her; so he sold her again. But 
she was changed by the favor of Neptune as often as 
she was sold, now into a horse, now a bird, now an ox, 
and now a stag, got away from her purchasers and 
came home. By this base method the starving father 
procured food ; but not enough for his wants, and at last 
hunger compelled him to devour his limbs, and he strove 
to nourish his body by eating his body, till death re- 
lieved him from the vengeance of Ceres. 



172 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROkS 



RHCECUS 

The Hamadryads could appreciate services as well as 
pifnish injuries. The story of Rhoecus proves this. 
Rhoecus, happening to see an oak just ready to fall, 
ordered his servants to prop it up. The nymph, who 
had been on the point of perishing with the tree, came 
and expressed her gratitude to him for having saved 
her life and bade him ask what reward he would. 
Rhoecus boldly asked her love and the nymph yielded to 
his desire. She at the same time charged him to be 
constant and told him that a bee should be her mes- 
senger and let him know when she would admit his 
society. One time the bee came to Rhoecus when he 
was playing at draughts and he carelessly brushed it 
away. This so incensed the nymph that she deprived 
him of sight. 

Our countryman, J. R. Lowell, has taken this story 
for the subject of one of his shorter poems. He intro- 
duces it thus : 

"Hear now this fairy legend of old Greece, 
As full of freedom, youth and beauty still, 
As the immortal freshness of that grace 
Carved for all ages on some Attic frieze." 

THE WATER DEITIES 

Oceanus and Tethys were the Titans who ruled over 
the watery element. When Jove and his brothers over- 
threw the Titans and assumed their power, Neptune and 
Amphitrite succeeded to the dominion of the waters in 
place of Oceanus and Tethys. / 

NEPTUNE 

Neptune was the chief of the water deities. The 
symbol of his power was the trident, or spear with 
three points, with which he used to shatter rocks, to 
call forth or subdue storms, to shake the shores and the 
like. He created the horse and was the patron of 



THE WATER DEITIES /'^'^^ 

horse races. His own horses had brazen hoofs and 
golden manes. They drew his chariot over the sea, 
which became smooth before him, while the monsters 
of the deep gambolled about his path. 

AMPHITRITE 

Amphitrite was the wife of Neptune. She was the 
daughter of Nereus and Doris, and the mother of Triton. 
Neptune, to pay his court to Amphitrite, came riding on 
a dolphin. Having won her he rewarded the dolphin 
by placing him among the stars. 

NEREUS AND DORIS 

Nereus and Doris were the parents of the Nereids, 
the most celebrated of whom were Amphitrite, Thetis, 
the mother of Achilles, and Galatea, who was loved 
by the Cyclops Polyphemus. Nereus was distinguished 
for his knowledge and his love of truth and justice, 
whence he was termed an elder; the gift of prophecy 
was also assigned to him. 

TRITON AND PROTEUS 

Triton was the son of Neptune and Amphitrite, and 
the poets make him his father's trumpeter. Proteus 
was also a son of Neptune. He, like Nereus, is styled 
a sea-elder for his wisdom and knowledge of future 
events. His peculiar power was that of changing his 
shape at will. 

THETIS 

Thetis, the daughter of Nereus and Doris, was so 
beautiful that Jupiter himself sought her in marriage; 
but having learned from Prometheus the Titan that 
Thetis should bear a son who should grow greater than 
his father, Jupiter desisted from his suit and decreed 
that Thetis should be the wife of a mortal. By the 
aid of Chiron the Centaur, Peleus succeeded in winning 



r^yj STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

the goddess for his bride and their son was the re- 
nowned Achilles. In our chapter on the Trojan war 
it will appear that Thetis was a faithful mother to him, 
aiding him in all difficulties, and watching over his in- 
terests from the first to the last. 



LEUCOTHEA AND PAL^MON 

Ino, the daughter of Cadmus and wife of Athamas, 
flying from her frantic husband with her little son Meli- 
certes in her arms, sprang from a cliff into the sea. 
The gods, out of compassion, made her a goddess of 
the sea, under the name of Leucothea, and him a god, 
under that of Palsemon. Both were held powerful to 
save from shipwreck and were invoked by sailors. 
Palsemon was usually represented riding on a dolphin. 
The Isthmian games were celebrated in his honor. He 
was called Portunus by the Romans, and believed to 
have jurisdiction of the ports and shores. 

Milton alludes to all these deities in the song at the 
conclusion of "Comus" : 

". . . Sabrina fair, 
Listen and appear to us, 
In name of great Oceanus ; 
By the earth-shaking Neptune's mace, 
And Tethys' grave, majestic pace, 
By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look, 
And the Carpathian wizard's hook,* 
By scaly Triton's winding shell, 
And old soothsaying Glaucus' spell, 
By Leucothea's lovely hands, 
And her son who rules the strands. 
By Thetis' tinsel-slippered feet. 
And the songs of Sirens sweet;" etc. 



Armstrong, the poet of the "Art of preserving 
Health," under the inspiration of Hygeia, the goddess 
of health, thus celebrates the Naiads. Paeon is a name 
both of Apollo and yEsculapius. 

^ Proteus, 



THE WATER DEITIES 175 

"Come, ye Naiads ! to the fountains lead ! 
Propitious maids! the task remains to sing 
Your gifts (so Paeon, so the powers of Health 
Command), to praise your crystal element. 
O comfortable streams ! with eager lips 
And trembling hands the languid thirsty quaff 
New life in you; fresh vigor fills their veins. 
No warmer cups the rural ages knew. 
None warmer sought the sires of humankind; 
Happy in temperate peace their equal days 
Felt not the alternate fits of feverish mirth 
And sick dejection; still serene and pleased, 
Blessed with divine immunity from ills, 
Long centuries they lived; their only fate 
Was ripe old age, and rather sleep than death." 



THE CAMENyE 

By this name the Latins designated the Muses, but 
included under it also some other deities, principally 
nymphs of fountains. Egeria was one of them, whose 
fountain and grotto are still shown. It was said that 
Numa, the second king of Rome, was favored by this 
nymph with secret interviews, in which she taught him 
those lessons of wisdom and of law which he imbodied 
in the institutions of his rising nation. After the death 
of Numa the nymph pined away and was changed into 
a fountain. 

Byron, in "Childe Harold," Canto IV., thus alludes 
to Egeria and her grotto : 

"Here didst thou dwell, in this enchanted cover, 
Egeria ! all thy heavenly bosom beating 
For the far footsteps of thy mortal lover; 
The purple midnight veiled that mystic meeting 
With her most starry canopy;" etc. 



Tennyson, also, in his "Palace of Art," gives us a 
glimpse of the royal lover expecting the interview : 

"Holding one hand against his ear. 
To list a footfall ere he saw 
The wood-nymph, stayed the Tuscan king to hear 
Of wisdom and of law." 



176 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



THE WINDS 

When so many less active agencies were personified, 
it is not to be supposed that the winds failed to be so. 
They were Boreas or Aquilo, the north wind; Zephyrus 
or Favonius, the west; Notus or Auster, the south; and 
Eurus, the east. The first two have been chiefly cele- 
brated by the poets, the former as the type of rude- 
ness, the latter of gentleness. Boreas loved the nymph 
Orithyia, and tried to play the lover's part, but met 
with poor success. It was hard for him to breathe 
gently, and sighing was out of the question. Weary at last 
of fruitless endeavors, he acted out his true character, 
seized the maiden and carried her off. Their children 
were Zetes and Calais, winged warriors, who accom- 
panied the Argonautic expedition, and did good service 
in an encounter with those monstrous birds the Harpies. 

Zephyrus was the lover of Flora. Milton alludes 
to them in "Paradise Lost," where he describes Adam 
waking and contemplating Eve still asleep. 

". . . He on his side 
Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love, 
Hung over her enamored, and beheld 
Beauty which, whether waking or asleep. 
Shot forth peculiar graces ; then with voice, 
Mild as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes, 
Her hand soft touching, whispered thus: 'Awake! 
My fairest, my espoused, my latest found, 
Heaven's last, best gift, my ever-new delight.'" 

Dr. Young, the poet of the "Night Thoughts," ad- 
dressing the idle and luxurious, says : / 

"Ye delicate ! who nothing can support 
(Yourselves most insupportable) for whom 
The winter rose must blow, . . . 
. . . and silky soft 
Favonius breathe still softer or be chid!'* 




THE THREE FATES. 
From painting by Michael Ang^elo. Pitti Gallery, Florence. 




HERCULES IN BATTLE WITH A CENTAUR. 
Flotence. ' John of Bologna. 



STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

(Continued) 

CHAPTER XXIII 

ACHELOUS AND HERCULES ADMETUS AND ALCESTIS 

ANTIGONE PENELOPE 

ACHELOUS AND HERCULES 

The river-god Achelous toid the story of Erisichthon 
to Theseus and his companions, whom he was enter- 
taining at his hospitable board, while they were delayed 
on their journey by the overflow of his waters. Having 
finished his story, he added, "But why should I tell of 
other persons' transformations when I myself am an 
instance of the possession of this power? Sometimes I 
l^ecome a serpent, and sometimes a bull, with horns on 
my head. Or I should say I once could do so; but now 
I have but one horn, having lost one." And here he 
groaned and was silent. 

Theseus asked him the cause of his grief, and how 
he lost his horn. To which question the river-god re- 
plied as follows: "Who likes to tell of his defeats? 
Yet I will not hesitate to relate mine, comforting my- 
self with the thought of the greatness of my conqueror, 
for it was Hercules. Perhaps you have heard of the 
fame of Dejanira, the fairest of maidens, whom a host 
of suitors strove to win. Hercules and myself were of 
the number, and the rest yielded to us two. He urged 
in his behalf his descent from Jove and his labors by 
which he had exceeded the exactions of Juno, his step- 
mother. I, on the other hand, said to the father of the 
maiden, 'Behold me, the king of the waters that flow 

177 



178 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

through your land. I am no stranger from a foreign 
shore, but belong to the country, a part of your realm. 
Let it not stand in my way that royal Juno owes me no 
enmity nor punishes me with heavy tasks. As for this 
man, who boasts himself the son of Jove, it is either 
a false pretence, or disgraceful to him if true, for it 
cannot be true except by his mother's shame.' As I said 
this Hercules scowled upon me, and with difficulty re- 
strained his rage. 'My hand will answer better than 
my tongue,' said he. 'I yield to you the victory in words, 
but trust my cause to the strife of deeds.' With that 
he advanced towards me, and I was ashamed, after 
what I had said, to yield. I threw off my green vesture 
and presented myself for the struggle. He tried to 
throw me, now attacking my head, now my body. My 
bulk was my protection, and he assailed me in vain. 
For a time we stopped, then returned to the conflict. 
We each kept our position, determined not to yield, foot 
to foot, I bending over him, clenching his hand in mine, 
with my forehead almost touching his. Thrice Hercules 
tried to throw me off, and the fourth time he succeed- 
ed, brought me to the ground, and himself upon my 
back. I tell you the truth, it was as if a mountain had 
fallen on me. I struggled to get my arms at liberty, 
panting and reeking with perspiration. He gave me no 
chance to recover, but seized my throat. My knees 
were on the earth and my mouth in the dust. 

"Finding that I was no match for him in the warrior's 
art, I resorted to others and glided away in the form 
of a serpent. I curled my body in a coil and hissed 
at him with my forked tongue. He smiled scornfully 
at this, and said, Tt was the labor ^i my infancy to 
conquer snakes.' So saying he clasped my neck with 
his hands. I was almost choked, and struggled to get 
my neck out of his grasp. Vanquished in this form, I 
tried what alone remained to me and assumed the form 
of a bull. He grasped my neck with his arm, and drag- 
ging my head down to the ground, overthrew me on 
the sand. Nor was this enough. His ruthless hand rent 
my horn from my head. The Naiades took it, conse- 
crated it, and filled it with fragrant flowers. Plenty 



ADMETUS AND ALCESTIS /l79J 

adopted my horn and made it her own, and called it 
'Cornucopia.' " 

The ancients were fond of findino- a hidden meaning 
in their mythological tales. They explain this fight of 
Achelous with Hercules by saying Achelous was a river 
that in seasons of rain overflowed its banks. When 
the fable says that Achelous loved Dejanira, and sought 
a union with her, the meaning is that the river in its 
windings flowed through part of Dejanira's kingdom. 
It was said to take the form of a snake because of 
its winding, and of a bull because it made a brawling 
or roaring in its course. When the river swelled, it 
made itself another channel. Thus its head was horned. 
Hercules prevented the return of these periodical over- 
flows by embankments and canals ; and therefore he was 
said to have vanquished the river-god and cut off his 
horn. Finally, the lands formerly subject to overflow, 
but now redeemed, became very fertile, and this is meant 
by the horn of plenty. 

There is another account of the origin of the Cornu- 
copia. Jupiter at his birth vv^as committed by his mother 
Rhea to the care of the daughters of Melisseus, a Cretan 
king. They fed the infant deity with the milk of the 
goat Amalthea. Jupiter broke off one of the horns 
of the goat and gave it to his nurses, and endowed it 
with the wonderful power of becoming filled with what- 
ever the possessor might wish. 

The name of Amalthea is also given by some writers 
to the mother of Bacchus. It is thus used by Milton, 
"Paradise Lost," Book IV.: 

". . . That Nyseian isle. 
Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham, 
V/hom Gentiles Ammon call, and Libyan Jove, 
Hid Amalthea and her florid son, 
Young Bacchus, from his stepdame Rhea's eye." 



ADMETUS A-MD ALCESTIS 

,-^Esc-ulii pius. the son of Apollo, Ai:as_endowed by his 
father wi th su ch skill in the healingarmiar~h'e'even 



(mp STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 






restored the dead to life_-At this Pluto took alarm, 
*-aedpTA:ailjd on Jupiter to launch a thunderbolt at 
yEsculapius. Apollo was indignant at the destruction 
of his son, and wreaked his vengeance on the inno- 
cent workmen who had made the thunderbolt. These 
were the Cyclopes, who have their workshop under 
Mount ^tna, from which the smoke and flames of 
their furnaces are constantly issuing. Apollo shot his 
arrows at the Cyclopes, which so incensed Jupiter that 
he condemned him as a punishment to become the serv- 
ant of a mortal for the space of one year. Accord- 
ingly Apollo went into the service of Admetus, king of 
Thessaly, and pastured his flocks for him on the verdant 
banks of the river Amphrysos. 

Admetus was a suitor, with others, for the hand of 

Alcestis, the daughter of Pelias, who promised her to 

him who should come for her in a chariot drawn by 

lions and boars. This task Admetus performed by the 

. assistance of his divine herdsman, and was made happy 

rin the possession of Alcestis. But Admetus fell ill, 
and being near to death, Apollo prevailed on the Fates 
to spare him on condition that some one would con- 
sent to die in his stead. Admetus, in his joy at this 
reprieve, thought little of the ransom, and perhaps re- 
membering the declarations of attachment which he had 
often heard from his courtiers and dependents fancied 
that it would be easy to find a substitute. But it was 
not so. Brave warriors, who would willingly have per- 
illed their lives for their prince, shrunk from the thought 
of dying for him on the bed of sickness ; and old serv- 
ants who had experienced his bounty and that of his 
house from their childhood up, were not willing to lay 
down the scanty remnant of their days to show their 
gratitude. Men asked, "Why does not one of his par- 
ents do it? They cannot in the course of nature live 
much longer, and who can feel like them the call to 
rescue the life they gave from an untimely end?" But 
the parents, distressed though they were at the thought 
of losing him, shrunk from the call. Then Alcestis, with 
a generous self-devotion, proffered herself as the sub- 
stitute. Admetus, fond as he was of life, would not 



ANTIGONE 181 

have submitted to receive it at such a cost; but there 
was no remedy. The condition imposed by the Fates 
had been met, and the decree was irrevocable. Alcestis 
sickened as Admetus revived, and she was rapidly sink- 
ing to the grave. 

Just at this time Hercules arrived at the palace of 
Admetus, and found all the inmates in great distress 
for the impending loss of the devoted wife and beloved 
mistress. Hercules, to whom no labor was too arduous, 
resolved to attempt her rescue. He went and lay in 
wait at the door of the chamber of the dying queen, 
and when Death came for his prey, he seized him and 
forced him to resign his victim. Alcestis recovered, and 
was restored to her husband. 

Milton alludes to the story of Alcestis in his Sonnet 
"on his deceased wife :" 

"Methought I saw my late espoused saint 
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave. 
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave, ' 
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint." 

J. R. Lowell has chosen the "Shepherd of King Ad- 
metus" for the subject of a short poem. He makes that 
event the first introduction of poetry to men. 

"Men called him but a shiftless youth, 
In whom no good they saw, 
And yet unwittingly, in truth, 

They made his careless words their law. 

"And day by day more holy grew 
Each spot where he had trod, 
Till after-poets only knew 

Their first-born brother was a god." 



ANTIGONE 

A large proportion both of the interesting persons 
and of th^ exalted acts of legendary Greece belongs to 
the female sex. Antigone was as bright an example 
of filial and sisterly fidelity as was Alcestis of connu- 



182 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

bial devotion. She was the daughter of QEdipus and 
Jocasta, who with all their descendants were the victims 
of an unrelenting fate, dooming them to destruction. 
CEdipus in his madness had torn out his eyes, and was 
driven forth from his kingdom Thebes, dreaded and 
abandoned by all men, as an object of divine vengeance. 
Antigone, his daughter, alone shared his wanderings and 
remained with him till he died, and then returned to 
Thebes. 

Her brothers, Eteocles and Polynices, had agreed to 
share the kingdom between them, and reign alternately 
year by year. The first year fell to the lot of Eteocles, 
who, when his time expired, refused to surrender the 
kingdom to his brother. Polynices fled to Adrastus, 
king of Argos, who gave him his daughter in marriage, 
and aided him with an army to enforce his claim to the 
kingdom. This led to the celebrated expedition of the 
"Seven against Thebes," which furnished ample ma- 
terials for the epic and tragic poets of Greece. 

Amphiaraus, the brother-in-law of Adrastus, opposed 
the enterprise, for he was a soothsayer, and knew by 
his art that no one of the leaders except Adrastus would 
live to return. But Amphiaraus, on his marriage to 
Eriphyle, the king's sister, had agreed that whenever he 
and Adrastus should differ in opinion, the decision 
should be left to Eriphyle. Polynices, knowing this, 
gave Eriph}/le the collar of Harmonia, and thereby 
gained her to his interest. This collar or necklace was 
a present which Vulcan had given to Harmonia on her 
marriage with Cadmus, and Polynices had taken it with 
him on his flight from Thebes. Eriphyle could not re- 
sist so tempting a bribe, and by her de/!ision the war was 
resolved on, and Amphiaraus went to his certain fate. 
He bore his part bravely in the contest, but could not 
avert his destiny. Pursued by the enemy, he fled along 
the river, when a thunderbolt launched by Jupiter 
opened the ground, and he, his chariot, and his chari- 
oteer were swallowed up. 

It would not be in place here to detail all the acts 
of heroism or atrocity which marked the contest; but 
we must not omit to record the fidelity of Evadne as 



ANTIGONE 183" 

an offset to the weakness of Eriphyle. Capaneus, the 
husband of Evadne, in the ardor of the fight declared 
that he would force his way into the city in spite of 
Jove himself. Placing a ladder against the wall he 
mounted, but Jupiter, offended at his impious language, 
struck him with a thunderbolt. When his obsequies 
were celebrated, Evadne cast herself on his funeral pile 
and perished. 

Early in the contest Eteocles consulted the sooth- 
sayer Tiresias as to the issue. Tiresias in his youth 
had by chance seen Minerva bathing. The goddess in 
her wrath deprived him of his sight, but afterwards 
relenting gave him in compensation the knowledge of 
future events. When consulted by Eteocles, he de^ 
clared that victory should fall to Thebes if MenoeceusJ 
the son of Creon, gave himself a voluntary victim. The 
heroic youth, learning the response, threw away his life 
in the first encounter. 

The siege continued long, with various success. At 
length both hosts agreed that the brothers should de- 
cide their quarrel by single combat. They fought and 
fell by each other's hands. The armies then renewed 
the fight, and at last the invaders were forced to yield, ; 
and fled, leaving their dead unburied. Creon, the uncle, 
of the fallen princes, now become king, caused Eteocles/ 
to be buried with distinguished honor, but suffered thq* 
body of Polynices to lie where it fell, forbidding everj 
one on pain of death to give it burial. 

Antigone, the sister of Polynices, heard with indigna 
tion the revolting edict which consigned her brother' 
body to the dogs and vultures, depriving it of thos 
rites which were considered essential to the repose of 
the dead. Unmoved by the dissuading counsel of an 
affectionate but timid sister, and unable to procure as- 
sistance, she determined to brave the hazard, and to 
bury the body with her own hands. She was detected 
in the act, and Creon gave orders that she should be 
buried alive, as having deliberately set at naught the 
solemn edict of the city. Her lover, H?emon, the son 
of Creon, unable to avert her fate, would not survive 
her, and fell by his own hand. 



184 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Antigone forms the subject of two fine tragedies of 
the Grecian poet Sophocles. Mrs. Jameson, in her 
"Characteristics of Women," has compared her char- 
acter with that of Cordelia, in Shakspeare's "King 
Lear." The perusal of her reinarks cannot fail to 
gratify our readers. 

The following is the lamentation of Antigone over 
Qidipus, when death has at last relieved him from his 
sufferings : 

"Alas ! I only wished I might have died 
With my poor father; wherefore should I ask 
For longer hfe? 

O, I was fond of misery with him; 
E'en what was most unlovely grew beloved 
When he was with me. O my dearest father. 
Beneath the earth now in deep darkness hid, 
Worn as thou wert with age, to me thou still 
Wast dear, and shalt be ever." 

Francklin's Sophocles. 

PENF.LOPE 

Penelope is another of those mythic heroines whose 
beauties were rather those of character and conduct 
than of person. She was the daughter of Icarius, a 
Spartan prince. Ulysses, king of Ithaca, sought her 
in marriage, and won her, over all competitors. When 
the moment came for the bride to leave her father's 
house, Icarius, unable to bear the thoughts of parting 
with his daughter, tried to persuade her to remain with 
him, and not accompany her husband to Ithaca. Ulysses 
gave Penelope her choice, to stay or go with him. 
Penelope made no reply, but dropped her veil over her 
face. Icarius urged her no further, but when she was 
gone erected a statue to Modesty on th^/spot where they 
parted. 

Ulysses and Penelope had not enjoyed their union 
more than a year when it was interrupted by the events 
which called Ulysses to the Trojan war. During his 
long absence, and when it was doubtful whether he still 
lived, and highly improbable that he would ever return, 
Penelope was importuned by numerous suitors, from 
whom there seemed no refuge but in choosing one of 



ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE 185 

them for her husband. Penelope, however, employed 
every art to gain time, still hoping for Ulysses' return. 
One of her arts of delay was engaging in the prepara- 
tion of a robe for the funeral canopy of Laertes, her 
husband's father. She pledged herself to make her 
choice among the suitors when the robe was finished. 
During the day she worked at the robe, but in the night 
she undid the work of the day. This is the famous 
Penelope's web, which is used as a proverbial expres- 
sion for anything which is perpetually doing but never 
done. The rest of Penelope's history will be told when 
we give an account of her husband's adventures. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE ARIST^US AMPHION LINUS 

THAMYRIS MARSYAS MELAMPUS MUS^US 

ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE 

Orpheus was the s on of Apollo and the Muse_Cal:_ 
Hope. _He^_T^ s ~'presenTOJ~'by li istather witha Lyre" 

"^^^S^:ht_to_plixIupS53t^^ 

fection_Jbat--othingLxouId_witi^^ of His" 

nmsMi. Not only his fellow-mortals'but wild~bFasts wefg^ 
. softened by his strains, and gathering round him laid 
by their fierceness, and stood entranced with his lay. Nay, 
the very trees and rocks were sensible to the charm. 
The former crowded round him and the latter relaxed 
somewhat of their hardness, softened by his notes. 

Hymen had been called to bless with his presence 
the nuptials of Orpheus with Eurydice; but though he 
attended, he brought no happy omens with him. His 
very torch smoked and brought tears into their eyes. 
Tn coincidence with such prognostics, Eurydice, shortly 
after her marriage, while wandering with the nymphs, 
her companions, was seen by the shepherd Aristaus, 
who was struck with her beauty and made advances to 



186 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

her. She fled, and in flying trod upon a snake in the 
grass, was bitten in the foot, and died. Orpheus sang 
his grief to all who breathed the upper air, both gods 
and men, and finding it all unavailing resolved to seek 
his wife in the regions of the dead. He descended by 
a cave situated on the side of the promontory of Tsenarus 
vand arrived at the Stygian realm. He passed through 
crowds of ghosts and presented himself before the 
throne of Pluto and Proserpine. Accompanying the 
words with the lyre, he sung, "O deities of the under- 
world, to whom all we who live must come, hear my 
words, for they are true. I come not to spy out the 
secrets of Tartarus, nor to try my strength against the 
three-headed dog with snaky hair who guards the en- 
trance. I come to seek my wife, whose opening years 
the poisonous viper's fang has brought to an untimely 
end. Love has led me here, Love, a god all power- 
ful with us who dwell on the earth, and, if old tradi- 
tions say true, not less so here. I implore you by these 
abodes full of terror, these realms of silence and un- 
created things, unite again the thread of Eurydice's life. 
We all are destined to you, and sooner or later must 
pass to your domain. She too, when she shall have 
filled her term of life, will rightly be yours. But till 
then grant her to me, I beseech you. H you deny me I 
cannot return alone; you shall triumph in the death of 
us both." 

As he sang these tender strains, the very ghosts shed 
tears. Tantalus, in spite of his thirst, stopped for a 
moment his efforts for water, Ixion's wheel stood still, 
the vulture ceased to tear the giant's liver, the daughters 
of Danaiis rested from their task of drawing water in 
a sieve, and Sisyphus sat on his rock to listen. Then 
for the first time, it is said, the cheeks of the Furies 
were wet with tears. Proserpine could not resist, and 
Pluto himself gave way. Eurydice was called. She 
came from among the new-arrived ghosts, limping with 
her wounded foot. Orpheus was permitted to take her 
away with him on one condition, that he should not 
turn around to look at her till they should have reached 
the upper air. Under this condition they proceeded on 



ORPHEUS AND EURYDICE 187 

their way, he leading, she following, through passages 
dark and steep, in total silence, till they had nearly 
reached the outlet into the cheerful upper world, when 
Orpheus, in a moment of forgetfulness, to assure him- 
self that she was still following, cast a glance behind 
him, when instantly she was borne away. Stretching 
out their arms to embrace each other, they grasped only 
the air ! Dying now a second time, she yet cannot re- 
proach her husband, for how can she blame his impa- 
tience to behold her? "Farewell," she said, "a. last fare- 
well," and was hurried away, so fast that the sound 
hardly reached his ears. 

Orpheus endeavored to follow her, and besought per- 
mission to return and try once more for her release; 
but the stern ferryman repulsed him and refused pas- 
sage. Seven days he lingered about the brink, without 
food or sleep ; then bitterly accusing of cruelty the 
powers of Erebus, he sang his complaints to the rocks 
and mountains, melting the hearts of tigers and moving 
the oaks from their stations. He held himself aloof 
from womankind, dwelling constantly on the recollection 
of his sad mischance. The Thracian maidens tried their 
best to captivate him, but he repulsed their advances. 
They bore with him as long as they could; but finding 
him insensible one day, excited by the rites of Bacchus, 
one of them, exclaimed, "See yonder our despiser !" and 
threw at him her javelin. The weapon, as soon as it 
came within the sound of his lyre, fell harmless at his 
feet. So did also the stones that they threw at him. But 
the women raised a scream and drowned the voice of the 
music, and then the missiles reached him and soon were 
stained with his blood. The maniacs tore him limb from 
limb, and threw his head and his lyre into the river 
Hebrus, down which they floated, murmuring sad music, 
to which the shores responded a plaintive symphony. 
The Muses gathered up the fragments of his body and 
buried them at Libethra, where the nightingale is said 
to sing over his grave more sweetly than in any other 
part of Greece. His lyre was placed by Jupiter among 
the stars. His shade passed a second time to Tartarus, 
where he sought out his Eurydice and embraced her 



188 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

with eager arms. They roam the happy fields together 
now, sometimes he leading, sometimes she ; and Orpheus 
gazes as much as he will upon her, no longer incurring 
a penalty for a thoughtless glance. 

The story of Orpheus has furnished Pope with an 
illustration of the power of music, for his "Ode for St. 
Cecilia's Day." The following stanza relates the con- 
clusion of the story : 

"But soon, too soon the lover turns his eyes; 
Again she falls, again she dies, she dies ! 
How wilt thou now the fatal sisters move? 
No crime was thine, if 't is no crime to love. 
Now under hanging mountains, 
Beside the falls of fountains, 
Or where Hebrus wanders, 
Rolling in meanders. 
All alone, 

He makes his moan. 
And calls her ghost, 
Forever, ever, ever lost ! 
Now with furies surrounded. 
Despairing, confounded. 
He trembles, he glows. 
Amidst Rhodope's snows. 
See, wild as the winds o'er the desert he flies; 
Hark! Hsemus resounds with the Bacchanals' cries; 

Ah, see, he dies ! 
Yet even in death Eurydice he sung, 
Eurydice still trembled on his tongue: 
Eurydice the woods 
Eurydice the floods 
Eurydice the rocks and hollow mountains rung." 

The superior melody of the nightingale's song over 
the grave of Orpheus is alluded to by Southey in his 
"Thalaba" : 

"Then on his ear what sounds 
Of harmony arose! 
Far music and the distance-mellowed song 
From bowers of merriment; 
The waterfall remote; 
The murmuring of the leafy groves; 
The single nightingale 
Perched in the rosier by, so richly toned, 
That never from that most melodious bird 



ARIST^US, THE BEE-KEEPER 189 

Singing a love song to his brooding mate, 

Did Thracian shepherd by the grave 

Of Orpheus hear a sweeter melody, 
Though there the spirit of the sepulchre 

All his own power infuse, to swell 

The incense that he loves." 



ARIST^US, THE BEE-KEEPER 

Man avails himself of the instincts of the inferior 
animals for his own advantage. Hence sprang the art 
of keeping bees. Honey must first have been known as 
a wild product, the bees building their structures in hol- 
low trees or holes in the rocks, or any similar cavity that 
chance offered. Thus occasionally the carcass of a dead 
animal w^ould be occupied by the bees for that purpose. 
It was no doubt from some such incident that the super- 
stition arose that the bees were engendered by the de- 
caying flesh of the animal ; and Virgil, in the following 
story, shows how this supposed fact may be turned to 
account for renewing the swarm when it has been lost 
by disease or accident : 

Aristaeus, who first taught the management of bees, 
was the son of the water-nymph Cyrene. His bees had 
perished, and he resorted for aid to his mother. He 
stood at the river side and thus addressed her: "O 
mother, the pride of my life is taken from me ! I have 
lost my precious bees. My care and skill have availed me 
nothing, and you my mother have not warded off from 
me the blow of misfortune." His mother heard these 
complaints as she sat in her palace at the bottom of the 
river, with her attendant nymphs around her. They 
were engaged in female occupations, spinning and weav- 
ing, while one told stories to amuse the rest. The sad 
voice of Aristaeus interrupting their occupation, one of 
them put her head above the water and seeing him. re- 
turned and gave information to his mother, who ordered 
that he should be brought into her presence. The river 
at her command opened itself and let him pass in, while 
it stood curled like a mountain on either side. He de- 
scended to the region where the fountains of the great 
rivers lie ; he saw the enormous receptacles of waters 



190 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

and was almost deafened with the roar, while he sur- 
veyed them hurrying off in various directions to water 
the face of the earth. Arriving at his mother's apart- 
ment, he was hospitably received by Cyrene and her 
nymphs, who spread their table with the richest dainties. 
They first poured out libations to Neptune, then regaled 
themselves with the feast, and after that Cyrene thus 
addressed him : "There is an old prophet named Proteus, 
who dwells in the sea and is a favorite of Neptune, 
whose herd of sea-calves he pastures. We nymphs hold 
him in great respect, for he is a learned sage and knows 
all things, past, present, and to come. He can tell you, 
my son, the cause of the mortality among your bees, 
and how you may remedy it. But he will not do it vol- 
untarily, however you may entreat him. You must com- 
pel him by force. If you seize him and chain him, he 
will answer your questions in order to get released, for 
he cannot by all his arts get away if you hold fast the 
chains. I will carry you to his cave, where he comes 
at noon to take his midday repose. Then you may 
easily secure him. But when he finds himself captured, 
his resort is to a power he possesses of changing himself 
into various forms. He will become a wild boar or a 
fierce tiger, a scaly dragon or lion with yellow mane. Or 
he will make a noise like the crackling of flames or the 
rush of water, so as to tempt you to let go the chain, 
when he will make his escape. But you have only to 
keep him fast bound, and at last when he finds all his 
arts unavailing, he will return to his own figure and 
obey your commands." So saying she sprinkled her son 
with fragrant nectar, the beverage of the gods, and im- 
mediately an unusual vigor filled his frame, and courage 
his heart, while perfume breathed alK around him. 

The nymph led her son to the prophet's cave and con- 
cealed him among the recesses of the rocks, while she 
herself took her place behind the clouds. When noon 
came and the hour when men and herds retreat from 
the glaring sun to indulge in quiet slumber, Proteus 
issued from the water, follov/ed by his herd of sea-calves 
which spread themselves along the shore. He sat on 
the rock and counted his herd; then stretched himself on 



ARISTyEUS, THE BEE-KEEPER 191 

the floor of the cave and went to sleep. Aristaeus hardly- 
allowed him to get fairly asleep before he fixed the fet- 
ters on him and shouted aloud. Proteus, waking and 
finding himself captured, immediately resorted to his 
arts, becoming first a fire, then a flood, then a horrible 
wild beast, in rapid succession. But finding all would 
not do, he at last resumed his own form and addressed 
the youth in angry accents : "Who are you, bold youth, 
who thus invade my abode, and what do you want of 
me?" Aristseus replied, "Proteus, you know already, 
for it is needless for any one to attempt to deceive you. 
And do you also cease your efforts to elude me. I am 
led hither by divine assistance, to know from you the 
cause of my misfortune and how to remedy it." At 
these words the prophet, fixing on him his gray eyes 
with a piercing look, thus spoke : "You receive the 
merited reward of your deeds, by which Eurydice met 
her death, for in flying from you she trod upon a serpent, 
of whose bite she died. To avenge her death, the 
nymphs, her companions, have sent this destruction to 
your bees. You have to appease their anger, and thus 
it must be done: Select four bulls, of perfect form and 
size, and four cows of equal beauty, build four altars to 
the nymphs, and sacrifice the animals, leaving their car- 
casses in the leafy grove. To Orpheus and Eurydice 
you shall pay such funeral honors as may allay their re- 
sentment. Returning after nine days, you will examine 
the bodies of the cattle slain and see what' will befall." 
Aristseus faithfully obeyed these directions. He sacri- 
ficed the cattle, he left their bodies in the grove, he 
ofl!"ered funeral honors to the shades of Orpheus and 
Eurydice; then returning on the ninth day he examined 
the bodies of the animals, and, wonderful to relate ! a 
SAvarm of bees had taken possession of one of the car- 
casses and were pursuing their lal)ors there as in a hive. 

In "The Task," Cowper alludes to the story of 
Aristseus, when speaking of the ice-palace built by the 
Empress Anne of Russia. He has been describing the 
fantastic forms which ice assumes in connection with 
waterfalls, etc. : 



192 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

"Less worthy of applause though more admired 
Because a novelty, the work of man, 
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ, 
Thy most magnificent and mighty freak, 
The wonder of the north. No forest fell 
When thou wouldst build, no quarry sent its stores 
T' enrich thy walls ; but thou didst hew the floods 
And make thy marble of the glassy wave. 
In such a palace Aristseus found 
Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale 
Of his lost bees to her maternal ear." 



Milton also appears to have had Cyrene and her 
domestic scene in his mind when he describes to us 
Sabrina, the nymph of the river Severn, in the Guard- 
ian-spirit's Song in "Comus" : 

"Sabrina fair! 
Listen where thou art sitting 
Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave 

In twisted braids of lilies knitting 
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair; 
Listen for dear honor's sake, 
Goddess of the silver lake ! 
Listen and save." 

The following are other celebrated mythical poets 
and musicians, some of whom were hardly inferior to 
Orpheus himself : 

AMPHION 

Amphion was the son of Jupiter and Antiope, queen 
of Thebes. With his twin brother Zethus he was ex- 
posed at birth on Mount Cithasron, where they grew up 
among the shepherds, not knowing their parentage. 
Mercury gave Amphion a lyre and taught him to play 
upon it, and his brother occupied himself in hunting and 
tending the flocks. Meanwhile Antiope, their mother, 
who had been treated with great cruelty by Lycus, the 
usurping king of Thebes, and by Dirce, his wife, found 
means to inform her children of their rights and to 
summon them to her assistance. With a band of their 
fellow-herdsmen they attacked and slew Lycus, and tying 
Dirce by the hair of her head to a bull, let him drag her 



MELAMPUS 193 

cill she was dead. Amphion, having become king of 
Thebes, fortified the city with a wall. It is said that 
when he played on his lyre the stones moved of their 
own accord and took their places in the wall. 

See Tennyson's poem of "Amphion" for an amusing 
use made of this story. 

LINUS 

Linus was the instructor of Hercules in music, but 
having one day reproved his pupil rather harshly, he 
roused the anger of Hercules, who struck him with his 
lyre and killed him. 

THAMYRIS 

An ancient Thracian bard, who in his presumption 
challenged the Muses to a trial of skill, and being over- 
come in the contest, was deprived by them of his sight. 
Milton alludes to him with other blind bards, when 
speaking of his own blindness, "Paradise Lost," Book 
UL, 35. 

MARSYAS 

Minerva invented the flute, and played upon it to the 
delight of all the celestial auditors ; but the mischievous 
urchin Cupid having dared to laugh at the queer face 
which the goddess made while playing, Minerva threw 
the instrument indignantly away, and it fell down to 
earth, and was found by Marsyas. He blew upon 
it, and drew from it such ravishing sounds that he 
was tempted to challenge Apollo himself to a musical 
contest. The god of course triumphed, and punished 
Marsyas by flaying him alive. 

MELAMPUS 

Melampus was the first mortal endowed with pro- 
phetic powers. Before his house there stood an oak 
tree containing a serpent's nest. The old serpents were 
killed by the servants, but Melampus took care of the 
young ones and fed them carefully. One day when he 
was asleep under the oak the serpents licked his ears 



194 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

with their tongues. On awaking he was astonished to 
find that he now understood the language of birds and 
creeping things. This knowledge enabled him to fore- 
tell future events, and he became a renowned soothsayer. 
At one time his enemies took him captive and kept him 
strictly imprisoned. Melampus in the silence of the night 
heard the woodworms in the timbers talking together, 
and found out by what they said that the timbers were 
nearly eaten through and the roof would soon fall in. 
He told his captors and demanded to be let out, warn- 
ing them also. They took his warning, and thus escaped 
destruction, and rewarded Melampus and held him in 
high honor. 

MUS^US 

A semi-mythological personage who was represented 
by one tradition to be the son of Orpheus. He is said 
to have written sacred poems and oracles. Milton 
couples his name with that of Orpheus in his 'Tl 
Penseroso" : 

"But O, sad virgin, that thy power 
Might raise Musasus from his bower, 
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing 
Such notes as warbled to the string. 
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek. 
And made Hell grant what love did seek." 



CHAPTER XXV 

ARION IBYCUS SIMONIDES SAPPHO 

The poets whose adventures compose this chapter 
were real persons some of whose works yet remain, 
and their influence on poets who succeeded them is yet 
more important than their poetical remains. The adven- 
tures recorded of them in the following stories rest on 
the same authority as other narratives of the "Age of 
Fable," that is, of the poets who have told them. In 
their present form, the first two are translated from 



ARION 195 

the German, Arion from Schlegel, and Ibycus from 
Schiller. 

ARION 

Arion was a famous musician, and dwelt in the court 
of Periander, king of Corinth, with whom he was a 
great favorite. There was to be a musical contest in 
Sicily, and Arion longed to compete for the prize. 
He told his wish to Periander, who besought him like 
a brother to give up the thought. "Pray stay with 
me," he said, "and be contented. He who strives to 
win may lose." Arion answered, "A wandering life 
best suits the free heart of a poet. The talent which 
a god bestowed on me, I would fain make a source of 
pleasure to others. And if I win the prize, how will 
the enjoyment of it be increased by the consciousness 
of my widespread fame !" He went, won the prize, and 
embarked with his wealth in a Corinthian ship for home. 
On the second morning after setting sail, the wind 
breathed mild and fair. "O Periander," he exclaimed, 
"dismiss your fears ! Soon shall you forget them in my 
embrace. With what lavish offerings will we display 
our gratitude to the gods, and how merry will we be at 
the festal board !" The wind and sea continued propi- 
tious. Not a cloud dimmed the firmament. He had 
not trusted too much to the ocean but he had to man. 
He overheard the seamen exchanging hints with one 
another, and found they were plotting to possess them- 
selves of his treasure. Presently they surrounded him 
loud and mutinous, and said, "Arion, you must die! H 
you would have a grave on shore, yield yourself to die 
on this spot; but if otherwise, cast yourself into the 
sea." "Will nothing satisfy you but my life?" said 
he. "Take my gold, and welcome. I willingly buy 
my life at that price." "No, no ; we cannot spare you. 
Your life would be too dangerous to us. Where could 
we go to escape from Periander, if he should know that 
you had been robbed by us? Your gold would be of 
little use to us, if on returning home, we could never 
more be free from fear." "Grant me, then," said he, "a 
last request, since nought will avail to save my life, that I 



196 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

may die, as I have lived, as becomes a bard. When I 
shall have sung my death song, and my harp-strings 
shall have ceased to vibrate, then I will bid farewell to 
life, and yield uncomplaining to my fate." This prayer, 
like the others, would have been unheeded, they 
thought only of their booty, but to hear so famous a 
musician, that moved their rude hearts. "Suffer me," 
he added, "to arrange my dress. Apoll o will not favor 
me unless I be clad in my minstrel garb." 

He clothed his well-proportioned limbs in gold and 
purple fair to see, his tunic fell around him in graceful 
folds, jewels adorned his arms, his brow was crowned 
with a golden wreath, and over his neck and shoulders 
flowed his hair perfumed with odors. His left hand 
held the lyre, his right the ivory wand with which he 
struck its chords. Like one inspired, he seemed to 
drink the morning air and glitter in the morning ray. 
The seamen gazed with admiration. He strode forward 
to the vessel's side and looked down into the deep blue 
sea. Addressing his lyre, he sang, "Companion of my 
voice, come with me to the realm of shades. Though 
Cerberus may growl, we know the power of song can 
tame his rage. Ye heroes of Elysium, who have passed 
the darkling flood, ye happy souls, soon shall I join 
y6ur band. Yet can ye relieve my grief ? Alas, I leave 
my friend behind me. Thou, who didst find thy Euryd- 
ice, and lose her again as soon as found ; when she had 
vanished like a dream, how didst thou hate the cheerful 
light ! I must away, but I will not fear. The gods look 
down upon us. Ye who slay me unoffending, when I 
am no more, your time of trembling shall come. Ye 
Nereids, receive your guest, who thraws himself upon 
your mercy!" So saying, he sprang /nto the deep sea. 
The waves covered him, and the seamen held on their 
way, fancying themselves safe from all danger of de- 
tection. 

But the strains of. his music had drawn round him 
the inhabitants of the deep to listen, and Dolphins fol- 
lowed the ship as if chained by a spell. While he 
struggled in the waves, a Dolphin offered him his back, 
and carried him mounted thereon safe to shore. At the 



ARION 197 

spot where he landed, a monument of brass was after- 
wards erected upon the rocky shore, to preserve the 
memory of the event. . 

When Arion and the dolphin parted, each to his own 
element, Arion thus poured forth his thanks : "Farewell, 
thou faithful, friendly fish ! Would that I could reward 
thee ; but thou canst not wend with me, nor I with thee. 
Companionship we may not have. May Galatea, queen 
of the deep, accord thee her favor, and thou, proud of 
the burden, draw her chariot over the smooth mirror of 
the deep." 

Arion hastened from the shore, and soon saw before 
him the towers of Corinth. He journeyed on, harp in 
hand, singing as he went, full of love and happiness, 
forgetting his losses, and mindful only of what re- 
mained, his friend and his lyre. He entered the hos- 
pitable halls, and was soon clasped in the embrace of 
Periander. "I come back to thee, my friend," he said. 
"The talent which a god bestowed has been the delight 
of thousands, but false knaves have stripped me of my 
well-earned treasure; yet I retain the consciousness of 
wide spread fame." Then he told Periander all the won- 
derful events that had befallen him, who heard him 
with amazement. "Shall such wickedness triumph?" said 
he. "Then in vain is power lodged in my hands. That 
we may discover the criminals, you must remain here 
in concealment, and so they will approach without sus- 
picion." When the ship arrived in the harbor, he sum- 
moned the mariners before him. "Have you heard 
anything of Arion?" he inquired. "I anxiously look for 
his return." They replied, "We left him well and pros- 
perous in Tarentum." As they said these words, Arion 
stepped forth and faced them. His well-proportioned 
limbs were arrayed in gold and purple fair to see, his 
tunic fell around him in graceful folds, jewels adorned 
his arms, his brow was crowned with a golden wreath, 
and over his neck and shoulders flowed his hair per- 
fumed with odors; his left hand held the lyre, his right 
the ivory wand with which he struck its chords. They 
fell prostrate at his feet, as if a lightning bolt had struck 
them. "We meant to murder him, and he has become 



198 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

a god. O Earth, open and receive us !" Then Periander 
spoke. "He lives, the master of the lay! Kind Heaven 
protects the poet's life. As for you, I invoke not the 
spirit of vengeance ; Arion wishes not your blood. Ye 
slaves of avarice, begone ! Seek some barbarous land, 
and never may aught beautiful delight your souls !" 

Spenser represents Arion. mounted on his dolphin, 
accompanying the train of Neptune and Amphitrite: 

"Then was there heard a most celestial sound 
Of dainty music which did next ensue, 
And, on the floating waters as enthroned, 
Arion with his harp unto him drew 
The ears and hearts of all that goodly crew; 
Even when as yet the dolphin which him bore 
Through the ^gean Seas from pirates' view, 
Stood still, by him astonished at his lore, 
And all the raging seas for joy forgot to roar." 

Byron, in his "Childe Harold," Canto H., alludes to 
the story of Arion, when, describing his voyage, he 
represents one of the seamen making music to entertain 
the rest: 

"The moon is up; by Heaven a. lovely eve! 
Long streams of light o'er dancing waves expand; 
Now lads on shore may sigh and maids believe; 
Such be our fate when we return to land ! 
Meantime some rude Arion's restless hand 
Wakes the brisk harmony that sailors love; 
A circle there of merry listeners stand. 
Or to some well-known measure featly move 
Thoughtless as if on shore they still were free to rove." 



IBYCUS 

In order to understand the story of Ibycus which 
follows it is necessary to remember, first, that the 
theatres of the ancients were immense fabrics capable 
of containing from ten to thirty thousand spectators 
and as they were used only on festival occasions, an ' 
admission was free to all, they were usually filled. 
They were without roofs and open to the sky, and the 
performances were in the daytime. Secondly, the ap- 
palling representation of the Furies is not exaggerated 



IBYCUS 199 

in the story. It is recorded that ^schylus, the tragic 
poet, having on one occasion represented the Furies in 
a chorus of fifty performers, the terror of the specta- 
tors was such that many fainted and were thrown into 
convulsions, and the magistrates forbade a like repre- 
sentation for the future. 

Ibycus, the pious poet, was on his way to the chariot / 
races and musical competitions held at the Isthmus of'i 
Corinth, which attracted all of Grecian lineage. A-p ollo J 
had_b estowed on him the gift ol ^ong^he lioneye^Jips 
of_the~poet, and ne pursued his way with lightsome step, 
full oFTRe god. Already the towers of Corinth crown- 
ing the height appeared in view, and he had entered 
with pious awe the sacred grove of Neptune. No living 
object was in sight, only a flock of cranes flew overhead 
taking the same course as himself in their migration to 
a southern clime. "Good luck to you, ye friendly squad- 
rons," he exclaimed, "my companions from across the 
sea. I take your company for a good omen. We come 
from far and fly in search of hospitality. May both 
of us meet that kind reception which shields the stranger 
guest from harm !" 

He paced briskly on, and soon was in the middle of 
the wood. There suddenly, at a narrow pass, two rob- 
bers stepped forth and barred his way. He must yield 
or fight. But his hand, accustomed to the lyre, and 
not to the strife of arms, sank powerless. He called 
for help on men and gods, but his cry reached no de- 
fender's ear. "Then here must I die," said he, "in a 
strange land, unlamented, cut off by the hand of out- 
laws, and see none to avenge my cause." Sore wounded, 
he sank to the earth, when hoarse screamed the cranes 
overhead. "Take up my cause, ye cranes," he said, "since 
no voice but yours answers to my cry." So saying he 
closed his eyes in death. 

The body, despoiled and mangled, was found, and 
though disfigured with wounds, was recognized by the 
friend in Corinth who had expected him as a guest. 
"Is it thus I find you restored to me?" he exclaimed. 
"I who hoped to entwine your temples wiih the wreath 
of triumph in the strife of song!" 



200 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

The guests assembled at the festival heard the tidings 
with dismay. All Greece felt the wound, every heart 
owned its loss. They crowded round the tribunal of 
the magistrates, and demanded vengeance on the mur- 
derers and expiation with their blood. 

But what trace or mark shall point out the perpe- 
trator from amidst the vast multitude attracted by the 
splendor of the feast? Did he fall by the hands of 
robbers or did some private enemy slay him? The all- 
discerning sun alone can tell, for no other eye beheld 
it. Yet not improbably the murderer even now walks 
in the midst of the throng, and enjoys the fruits of his 
crime, while vengeance seeks for him in vain. Perhaps 
in their own temple's enclosure he defies the gods, 
mingling freely in this throng of men that now presses 
into the amphitheatre. 

For now crowded together, row on row, the multi- 
tude fill the seats till it seems ds if the very fabric would 
give way. The murmur of voices sounds like the roar 
of the sea, while the circles widening in their ascent rise 
tier on tier, as if they would reach the sky. 

And now the vast assemblage listens to the awful 
voice of the chorus personating the Furies, which in 
solemn guise advances with measured step, and moves 
around the circuit of the theatre. Can they be mortal 
women who compose that awful group, and can that 
vast concourse of silent forms be living beings? 

The choristers, clad in black, bore in their fleshless 
hands torches blazing with a pitchy flame. Their cheeks 
were bloodless, and in place of hair writhing and swell- 
ing serpents curled around their brows. Forming a 
circle, these awful beings sang their /nymns, rending the 
hearts of the guilty, and enchaining all their faculties. 
It rose and swelled, overpowering the sound of the in- 
struments, stealing the judgment, palsying the heart, 
curdling the blood. 

"Happy the man who keeps his heart pure from guilt 
and crime ! Him we avengers touch not ; he treads the 
path of life secure from us. But woe ! woe ! to him 
who has done the deed of secret murder. We the fear- 
ful family of Night fasten ourselves upon his whole 



SIMONIDES 201 

being. Thinks he by flight to escape us? We fly still 
faster in pursuit, twine our snakes around his feet, and 
bring him to the ground. Unwearied we pursue ; no 
pity checks our course ; still on and on, to the end of 
life, we give him no peace nor rest." Thus the Eume- 
nides sang, and moved in solemn cadence, while stillness 
like the stillness of death sat over the v/hole assembly 
as if in the presence of superhuman beings; and then 
in solemn march completing the circuit of the theatre, 
they passed out at the back of the stage. 

Every heart fluttered between illusion and reality, and 
every breast panted with undefined terror, quailing be- 
fore the awful power that watches secret crimes and 
winds unseen the skein of destiny. At that moment a 
cry burst forth from one of the uppermost benches 
"Look ! look ! comrade, yonder are the cranes of 
Ibycus !" And suddenly there appeared sailing across 
the sky a dark object which a moment's inspection 
showed to be a flock of cranes flying directly over the 
theatre. "Of Ibycus! did he say?" The beloved name 
revived the sorrow in every breast. As wave follows 
wave over the face of the sea, so ran from mouth 
to mouth the words, "Of Ibycus ! him whom we all la- 
ment, whom some murderer's hand laid low ! What 
have the cranes to do with him ?" And louder grew the 
swell of voices, while like a lightning's flash the thought 
sped through every heart, "Observe the power of the 
EumenidesJ__ The pious po etshall he av^n g^ d! the mur- 
derer has mformed against himself. Seize the man who 
uttered that cry and the other to whom he spoke!" 

The culprit would gladly have recalled his words, but 
it was too late. The faces of the murderers, pale with 
terror, betrayed their guilt. The people took them be- 
fore the judge, they confessed their crime, and suffered 
the punishment they deserved. 

SIMONIDES 

Simonides was one of the most prolific of the early 
poets of Greece, but only a few fragments of his com- 
positions have descended to us. He wrote hymns, tri- 



202 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

umphal odes, and elegies. In the last species of com- 
position he particularly excelled. His genius was 
inclined to the pathetic, and none could touch with truer 
effect the chords of human sympathy. The "Lamenta- 
tion of Danae," the most important of the fragments 
which remain of his poetry, is based upon the tradition 
that Danae and her infant son were confined by order 
of her father, Acrisius, in a chest and set adrift on the 
sea. The chest floated towards the island of Seriphus, 
where both were rescued by Dictys, a fisherman, and 
carried to Polydectes, king of the country, who received 
and protected them. The child, Perseus, when grown up 
became a famous hero, whose adventures have been re- 
corded in a previous chapter. 

Simonides passed much of his life at the courts of 
princes, and often employed his talents in panegyric and 
festal odes, receiving his reward from the munificence 
of those whose exploits he celebrated. This employment 
was not derogatory, but closely resembles that of the 
earliest bards, such as Demodocus, described by Homer, 
or of Homer himself, as recorded by tradition. 

On one occasion, when residing at the court of Scopas, 
king of Thessaly, the prince desired him to prepare a 
poem in celebration of his exploits, to be recited at a 
banquet. In order to diversify his theme, Simonides, 
who was celebrated for his piety, introduced into his 
poem the exploits of Castor and Pollux. Such digres- 
sions were not unusual with the poets on similar oc- 
casions, and one might suppose an ordinary mortal 
might have been content to share the praises of the 
sons of Leda. But vanity is exacting; and as Scopas 
sat at his festal board among his courtiers and syco- 
phants, he grudged every verse tha|/did not rehearse his 
own praises. When Simonides approached to receive 
the promised reward Scopas bestowed but half the ex- 
pected sum, saying, "Here is payment for my portion 
of thy performance ; Castor and Pollux will doubtless 
compensate thee for so much as relates to them." The 
disconcerted poet returned to his seat amidst the laugh- 
ter which followed the great man's jest. In a little 
time he received a message that two young men on 



SAPPHO 203 

horseback were waiting without and anxious to see him. 
Simonides hastened to the door, but looked in vain for 
the visitors. Scarcely, however, had he left the banquet- 
ing hall when the roof fell in with a loud crash, bury- 
ing Scopas and all his guests beneath the ruins. On 
inquiring as to the appearance of the young men who 
had sent for him, Simonides was satisfied that they were 
v other than Castor and Pollux themselves. 

SAPPHO 

Sappho was a poetess who flourished in a very early 
age of Greek literature. Of her works few fragments 
remain, but they are enough to establish her claim to 
eminent poetical genius. The story of Sappho com- 
monly alluded to is that she was passionately in love 
with a beautiful youth named Phaon, and failing to 
obtain a return of affection she threw herself from the 
promontory of Leucadia into the sea, under a supersti- 
tion that those who should take that "Lover's-leap" 
would, if not destroyed, be cured of their love. 

Byron alludes to the story of Sappho in "Childe 
Harold," Canto II. : 

"Childe Harold sailed and passed the barren spot 
Where sad Penelope o'erlooked the wave, 
And onward viewed the mount, not yet forgot, 
The lover's refuge and the Lesbian's grave. 
Dark Sappho! could not verse in mortal save 
That breast imbued with such immortal fire? 

" 'Twas on a Grecian autumn's gentle eve 
Childe Harold hailed Leucadia's cape afar;" etc. 

Those who wish to know more of Sappho and her 
"leap" are referred to the "Spectator," Nos. 223 and 
229. See also Moore's "Evenings in Greece." 



204 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



CHAPTER XXVI 

ENDYMION ORION AURORA AND TITHONUS ACIS AND 

GALATEA 

DIANA AND ENDYMION 

Endymion was a beautiful youth who fed his flock 
on Mount Latmos. One calm, clear night Diana, the 
moon, looked down and saw him sleeping. The cold 
heart of the virgin goddess was warmed by his sur- 
passing beauty, and she came down to him, kissed him, 
and watched over him while he slept. 

Another story was that Jupiter bestowed on hrm the 
gift of perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Of 
one so gifted we can have but few adventures to re- 
cord. Diana, it was said, took care that his fortunes 
should not suffer by his inactive life, for she made his 
flock increase, and guarded his sheep and lambs from 
the wild beasts. 

The story of Endymion has a peculiar charm from 
the human meaning which it so thinly veils. We see 
in Endymion the young poet, his fancy and his heart 
seeking in vain for that which can satisfy them, finding 
his favorite hour in the quiet moonlight, and nursing 
there beneath the beams of the bright and silent wit- 
ness the melancholy and the ardor which consumes him. 
The story suggests aspiring and poetic love, a life spent 
more in dreams than in reality, and an early and wel- 
come death. S. G. B. / 

The "Endymion" of Keats is a wild and fanciful 
poem, containing some exquisite poetry, as this, to the 
moon : 

". . . The sleeping kine 
Couched in thy brightness dream of fields divine. 
Innumerable mountains rise, and rise, 
Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes, 



ORION 205 

And yet thy benediction passeth not 
One obscure hiding-place, one little spot 
Where pleasure may be sent; the nested wren 
Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken;" etc., etc 

Dr. Young, in the "Night Thoughts," alludes to 
Endymion thus : 

". . . These thoughts, O night, are thine; ' 

From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs, 
While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign, 
In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere, 
Her shepherd cheered, of her enamoured less 
Than I of thee." 

Fletcher, in the "Faithful Shepherdess," tells : 

"How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove, 
First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes 
She took eternal fire that never dies; 
How she conveyed him softly in a sleep. 
His temples bound with poppy, to the steep 
Head of old Latmos, where she stoops each night, 
Gilding the mountain with her brother's light, 
To kiss her sweetest." 



ORION 

Orion was the son of Neptune. He was a handsome 
giant and a mighty hunter. His father gave him the 
power of wading through the depths of the sea, or, as 
others say, of walking on its surface. 

Orion loved Merope, the daughter of (Enopion, king 
of Chios, and sought her in marriage. He cleared the 
island of wild beasts, and brought the spoils of the chase 
as presents to his beloved; but as CEnopion constantly 
deferred bis consent, Orion attempted to gain possession 
of the maiden by violence. Her father, incensed at 
this conduct, having made Orion drunk, deprived him 
of his sight and cast him out on the seashore. The 
blinded hero followed the sound of a Cyclops' hammer 
till he reached Lemnos, and came to the forge of Vul- 
can, who, taking pity on him, gave him Kedalion, one 
of his men, to be his guide to the abode of the sun. 



206 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Placing Kedalion on his shoulders, Orion proceeded to 
the east, and there meeting the sun-god, was restored 
to sight by his beam. 

After this he dwelt as a hunter with Diana, with 
whom he was a favorite, and it is even said she was 
about to marry him. Her brother was highly displeased 
and often chid her, but to no purpose. One day, ob- 
serving Orion wading through the sea with his head 
just above the water, Apollo-pointed it out to his sister 
and maintained that she could not hit that black thing 
on the sea. The archer-goddess discharged a shaft with 
fatal aim. The waves rolled the dead body of Orion 
to the land, and bewailing her fatal error with many 
tears, Diana placed him among the stars, where he ap- 
pears as a giant, with a girdle, sword, lion's skin, and 
club. Sirius, his dog, follows him, and the Pleiads fly 
before him. 

The Pleiads were daughters of Atlas, and nymphs of 
Diana's train. One day Orion saw them and became 
enamoured and pursued them. In their distress they 
prayed to the gods to change their form, and Jupiter 
in pity turned them into pigeons, and then made them 
a constellation in the sky. Though their number was 
seven, only six stars are visible, for Electra, one of 
them, it is said left her place that she might not behold 
the ruin of Troy, for that city was founded by her son 
Dardanus. The sight had such an effect on her sisters 
that they have looked pale ever since. 

Mr. Longfellow has a poem on the "Occultation of 
Orion." The following lines are those in which he 
alludes to the mythic story. We must premise that on 
the celestial globe Orion is represented as robed in a 
lion's skin and wielding a club. At the moment the stars 
of the constellation, one by one, were quenched in the 
light of the moon, the poet tells us 

"Down fell the red skin of the lion 
Into the river at his feet. 
His mighty club no longer beat 
The forehead of the bull ; but he 
Reeled as of yore beside the sea, 



AURORA AND TITHONUS 207 

When blinded by CEnopion 

He sought the blacksmith at his forge, 
And climbing up the narrow gorge, 

Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun." 

Tennyson has a different theory of the Pleiads : 

"Many a night I saw the Plefads, rising through the mellow- 
shade, 
Glitter like a swarm of fire- flies tangled in a silver braid." 

Locksley Hall. 

Byron alludes to the lost Pleiad : 

"Like the lost Pleiad seen no more below." 

See also Mrs. Hemans's verses on the same subject. 

AURORA AND TITHONUS 

The goddess of the Dawn, like her sister the Moon. 
was at times inspired with the love of mortals. Her 
greatest favorite was Tithonus, son of Laomedon, king 
of Troy. She stole him away, and prevailed on Jupi- 
ter to grant him immortality; but, forgetting to have 
youth joined in the gift, after some time she began to 
discern, to her great mortification, that he was growing 
old. When his hair was quite white she left his soci- 
ety; but he still had the range of her palace, lived on 
ambrosial food, and was clad in celestial raiment. At 
length he lost the power of using his limbs, and then 
she shut him up in his chamber, whence his feeble voice 
might at tirnes be heard. Finally she turned him into 
a grasshopper. 

Memnon was the son of Aurora and Tithonus. He 
was king of the Ethiopians, and dwelt in the extreme 
east, on the shore of Ocean. He came with his war- 
riors to assist the kindred of his father in the war of 
Troy. King Priam received him with great honors, 
and listened with admiration to his narrative of the 
wonders of the ocean shore. 

The very day after his arrival, Memnon, impatient 
of repose, led his troops to the field. Antilochus, the 



208 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Drave son of Nestor, fell by his hand, and the Greeks 
were put to flight, when Achilles appeared and restored 
the battle. A long and doubtful contest ensued between 
him and the son of Aurora; at length victory declared 
for Achilles, Memnon fell, and the Trojans fled in 
dismay. 

Aurora, who from her station in the sky had viewed 
with apprehension the danger of her son, when she 
saw him fall, directed his brothers, the Winds, to con- 
vey his body to the banks of the river Esepus in Paph- 
lagonia. In the evening Aurora came, accompanied 
by the Hours and the Pleiads, and wept and lamented 
over her son. Night, in sympathy with her grief, 
spread the heaven with clouds ; all nature mourned for 
the offspring of the Dawn. The Ethiopians raised his 
tomb on the banks of the stream in the grove of the 
Nymphs, and Jupiter caused the sparks and cinders of 
his funeral pile to be turned into birds, which, dividing 
into two flocks, fought over the pile till they fell into 
the flame. Every year at the anniversary of his death 
they return and celebrate his obsequies in like manner. 
Aurora remains inconsolable for the loss of her son. 
Her tears still flow, and may be seen at early morning 
in the form of dew-drops on the grass. 

Unlike most of the marvels of ancient mythology, 
there still exist some memorials of this. On the banks 
of the river Nile, in Egypt, are two colossal statues, 
one of which is said to be the statue of Memnon. An- 
cient writers record that when the first rays' of the 
rising sun fall upon this statue a sound is heard to issue 
from it, which they compare to the s;3^apping of a harp- 
string. There is some doubt about the identification of 
the existing statue with the one described by the an- 
cients, and the mysterious sounds are still more doubtful. 
Yet there are not wanting some modern testimonies to 
their being still audible. It has been suggested that 
sounds produced by confined air making its escape from 
crevices or caverns in the rocks may have given some 
ground for the story. Sir Gardner Wilkinson, a late 
traveller, of the highest authority, examined the statue 




AJAX. 
Vatican Museum, Rome. 




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ACIS AND GALATEA 209 

itself, and discovered that it was hollow, and that "in 
the lap of the statue is a stone, which on being struck 
emits a metallic sound, that might still be made use of 
to deceive a visitor who was predisposed to believe its 
powers." 

The vocal statue of Memnon is a favorite subject 
of allusion with the poets. Darwin, in his "Botanic Gar- 
den," says : 

"So to the sacred Sun in Memnon's fane 
Spontaneous concords choired the matin strain; 
Touched by his orient beam responsive rings 
The hving lyre and vibrates all its strings; 
Accordant aisles the tender tones prolong, 
And holy echoes swell the adoring song." 

Book I., 1., 182. 

ACIS AND GALATEA 

Scylla was a fair virgin of Sicily, a favorite of the 
Sea-Nymphs. She had many suitors, but repelled them 
all, and would go to the grotto of Galatea, and tell her 
how she was persecuted. One day the goddess, while 
Scylla dressed her hair, listened to the story, and then 
replied, "Yet, maiden, your persecutors are of the not 
ungentle race of men, whom, if you will, you can repel ; 
but I, the daughter of Nereus, and protected by such 
a band of sisters, found no escape from the passion of 
the Cyclops but in the depths of the sea ;" and tears 
stopped her utterance, which when the pitying maiden 
had wiped away with her delicate finger, and soothed 
the goddess, "Tell me, dearest," said she, "the cause of 
your grief." Galatea then said, "Acis was the son of 
Faunus and a Naiad. His father and mother loved him 
dearly, but their love was not equal to mine. For the 
beautiful youth attached himself to me alone, and he 
was just sixteen years old, the down just beginning to 
darken his cheeks. As much as I sought his society, so 
much did the Cyclops seek mine; and if you ask me 
whether my love for Acis or my hatred of Polyphemus 
was the stronger, I cannot tell you ; they were in equal 
measure. O Venus, how great is thy power! this fierce 
giant, the terror of the woods, whom no hapless stranger 



210 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

escaped unharmed, who defied even Jove himself, learned 
to feel what love was, and, touched with a passion for 
me, forgot his flocks and his well-stored caverns. The i 
for the first time he began to take some care of hi.^ 
appearance, and to try to make himself agreeable; he 
harrowed those coarse locks of his with a comb, anr] 
mowed his beard with a sickle, looked at his harsh fea- 
tures in the water, and composed his countenance. His 
love of slaughter, his fierceness and thirst of blood pre- 
vailed no more, and ships that touched at his islan ' 
went away in safety. He paced up and down the se i 
shore, imprinting huge tracks with his heavy tread, and, 
when weary, lay tranquilly in his cave. 

"There is a cliff which projects into the sea, which 
washes it on either side. Thither one day the huge 
Cyclops ascended, and sat down while his flocks spread 
themselves around. Laying down his staff, which would 
have served for a mast to hold a vessel's sail, and tak- 
ing his instrument compacted of numerous pipes, he 
made the hills and the waters echo the music of his 
song. I lay hid under a rock by the side of my beloved 
Acis, and listened to the distant strain. It was full 
of extravagant praises of my beauty, mingled with pas- 
sionate reproaches of my coldness and cruelty. 

"When he had finished he rose up, and, like a raging 
bull that cannot stand still, wandered off into the woods. 
Acis and I thought no more of him, till on a sudden 
he came to a spot which gave him a view of us as we 
sat. T see you,' he exclaimed, 'and I will make this the 
last of your love-meetings.' His voice was a roar such 
as an angry Cyclops alone could utter, .^tna trembled 
at the sound. I, overcome with terrot/, plunged into the 
water. Acis turned and fled, crying,' 'Save me, Galatea, 
save me, my parents !' The Cyclops pursued him, and 
tearing a rock from the side of the mountain hurled it 
at him. Though only a corner of it touched him, it 
overwhelmed him. 

"All that fate left in my power I did for Acis. i 
endowed him with the honors of his grandfather, the 
river-god. The purple blood flowed out from under 
the rock, but by degrees grew paler and looked like the 



THE TROJAN WAR 211 

stream of a river rendered turbid by rains, and in time 
it became clear. The rock cleaved open, and the 
vv^ater, as it gushed from the chasm, uttered a pleasing 
murmur." 

Thus Acis was changed into a river, and the river 
retains the name of Acis. 

Dryden, in his "Cymon and Iphigenia," has told the 
story of a clown converted into a gentleman by the 
power of love, in a way that shows traces of kindred to 
the old story of Galatea and the Cyclops. 

"What not his father's care nor tutor's art 
Could plant with pains in his unpolished heart, 
The best instructor, Love, at once inspired, 
As barren grounds to fruitfulness are fired. 
Love taug-ht him shame, and shame with love at strife 
Soon taught the sweet civiHties of life." 



CHAPTER XXVn 

THE TROJAN WAR 

Minerva was the goddess of wisdom, but on one 
occasion she did a very foolish thing; she entered into 
competition with Juno and Venus for the prize of 
beauty. It happened thus : At the nuptials of Peleus 
and Thetis all the gods were invited with the excep- 
tion of Eris, or Discord. Enraged at her exclusion, 
the goddess threw a golden apple among the guests, 
with the inscription, "For the fairest." Thereupon 
Juno, Venus, and Minerva each claimed the apple. 
Jupiter, not willing to decide in so delicate a matter, 
sent the goddesses to Mount Ida, where the beautiful 
shepherd Paris was tending his flocks, and to him was 
committed the decision. The goddesses accordingly ap- 
peared before him. Juno promised him power and 
riches, Minerva glory and renown in war, and Venus 
the fairest of women for his wife, each attempting to 
bias his decision in her own favor. Paris decided ii' 



212 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

favor of Venus and gave her the golden apple, thus 
making the two other goddesses his enemies. Under 
the protection of Venus, Paris sailed to Greece, and 
was hospitably received by Menelaus, king of Sparta. 
Now Helen, the wife of Menelaus, was the very wom- 
an whom Venus had destined for Paris, the fairest 
of her sex. She had been sought as a bride by numer- 
ous suitors, and before her decision was made known, 
they all, at the suggestion of Ulysses, one of their num- 
ber, took an oath that they would defend her from all 
injury and avenge her cause if necessary. She chose 
Menelaus, and was living with him happily when Paris 
became their guest. Paris, aided by Venus, persuaded 
her to elope with him, and carried her to Troy, whence 
arose the famous Trojan war, the theme of the greatest 
poems of antiquity, those of Homer and Virgil. 

Menelaus called upon his brother chieftains of Greece 
to fulfil their pledge, and join him in his efforts to 
recover his wife. They generally came forward, but 
Ulysses, who had married Penelope, and was very happy 
in his wife and child, had no disposition to embark 
in such a troublesome affair. He therefore hung back 
and Palamedes was sent to urge him. When Palamedes 
arrived at Ithaca Ulysses pretended to be mad. He 
yoked an ass and an ox together to the plough and 
began to sow salt. Palamedes, to try him, placed the 
infant Telemachus before the plough, whereupon the 
father turned the plough aside, showing plainly that he 
was no madman, and after that could no longer refuse 
to fulfil his promise. Being now himself gained for the 
imdertaking, he lent his aid to bring in other reluctant 
chiefs, especially Achilles. This her)2^ wae the son of 
that Thetis at whose marriage the apple of Discord had 
been thrown among the goddesses. Thetis was herself 
one of the immortals, a sea-nymph, and knowing that 
her son was fated to perish before Troy if he went on 
the expedition, she endeavored to prevent his going. 
She sent him away to the court of King Lycomedes, and 
induced him to conceal himself in the disguise of a 
maiden among the daughters of the king. Ulysses, hear- 
ing he was there, went disguised as a merchant to the 



THE TROJAN WAR 213 

palace and offered for sale female ornaments, among 
which he had placed some arms. While the king's 
daughters were engrossed with the other contents of 
the merchant's pack, Achilles handled the weapons and 
thereby betrayed himself to the keen eye of Ulysses, who 
found no great difficulty in persuading him to disre- 
gard his mother's prudent counsels and join his coun- 
trymen in the war. 

Priam was king of Troy, and Paris, the shepherd 
J'.nd seducer of Helen, was his son. Paris had been 
brought up in obscurity, because there were certain 
ominous forebodings connected with him from his in- 
fancy that he would be the ruin of the state. These 
forebodings seemed at length likely to be realized, for 
the Grecian armament now in preparation was the 
greatest that had ever been fitted out. Agamemnon, 
king of Mycenae, and brother of the injured Menelaus, 
was chosen commander-in-chief. Achilles was their 
most illustrious warrior. After him ranked Ajax, gi- 
gantic in size and of great courage, but dull of intel- 
lect ; Diomede, second only to Achilles in all the qualities 
of a hero; Ulysses, famous for his sagacity; and Nestor, 
the oldest of the Grecian chiefs, and one to whom they 
all looked up for counsel. But Troy was no feeble 
enemy. Priam, the king, was now old, but he had been 
a wise prince and had strengthened his state by good 
government at home and numerous alliances with his 
neighbors. But the principal stay and support of his 
throne was his son Plector, one of the noblest charac- 
ters painted by heathen antiquity. He felt, from the 
first, a presentiment of the fall of his country, but still 
persevered in his heroic resistance, yet by no means 
justified the wrong which brought this danger upon her. 
He was united in marriage with Andromache, and as 
a husband and father his character was not less ad- 
mirable than as a warrior. The ])rincipal leaders on the 
side of the Trojans, besides Hector, were -^neas and 
Deiphobus, Glaucus and Sarpedon. 

After two years of preparation the Greek fleet and 
army assembled in the port of Aulis in Bocotia. Here 
Agamemnon in hunting killed a stag which was sacred 



\ 



214 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

to Diana, and the goddess in return visited the army 
with pestilence, and produced a calm which prevented 
the ships from leaving the port. Calchas, the sooth- 
sayer, thereupon announced that the wrath of the virgin 
goddess could only be appeased by the sacrifice of a 
virgin on her altar, and that none other but the daughter 
of the offender would be acceptable. Agamemnon, how- 
ever reluctant, yielded his consent, and the maiden 
Iphigenia was sent for under the pretence that she was 
to be married to Achilles. When she was about to 
be sacrificed the goddess relented and snatched her 
away, leaving a hind in her place, and Iphigenia, en- 
veloped in a cloud, was carried to Tauris, where Diana 
made her priestess of her temple. 

Tennyson, in his "Dream of Fair Women," makes 
Iphigenia thus describe her feelings at the moment of 
sacrifice : 

"I was cut ofif from hope in that sad place, 

Which yet to name my spirit loathes and fears; 
My father held his hand upon his face; 
I, blinded by my tears, 

"Still strove to speak; my voice was thick with sighs, 
As in a dream. Dimly I could descry 
The stern black-bearded kings, with wolfish eyes, 
Waiting to see me die. 

"The tall masts quivered as they lay afloat, 

The temples and the people and the shore; 
One drew a sharp knife through, my tender throat 
Slowly, and nothing more." 

The wind now proving fair the fleet made sail and 
brought the forces to the coast of Troy. The Trojans 
came to oppose their landing, and at ;rtie first onset Pro- 
;;esilaus fell by the hand of Hector. Protesilaus had 
left at home his wife, Laodamia, who was most ten- 
derly attached to him. When the news of his death 
reached her she implored the gods to be allowed to con- 
verse with him only three hours. The request was 
granted. Mercury led Protesilaus back to the upper 
world, and when he died a second time Laodamia died 
with him. There was a story that the nymphs planted 



"THE ILIAD" 215 

elm trees round his grave which grew very well till they 
were high enough to command a view of Troy, and 
then withered away, while fresh branches sprang from 
the roots. 

Wordsworth has taken the story of Protesilaus and 
Laodamia for the subject of a poem. It seems the 
oracle had declared that victory should be the lot of 
that party from which should fall the first victim to 
the war. The poet represents Protesilaus, on his brief 
return to earth, as relating to Laodamia the story of 
his fate : 

" 'The wished-for wind was given ; I then revolved 

The oracle, upon the silent sea; 
And if no worthier led the way, resolved 

That of a thousand vessels mine should be 
The foremost prow impressing to the strand, 
Mine the first blood that tinged the Trojan sand. 

" 'Yet bitter, ofttimes bitter vi^as the pang 
When of thy loss I thought, beloveJ wife! 

On thee too fondly did my memory hang. 
And on the joys we shared in mortal life, 

The oaths which we had trod, these fountains, flowers; 

My new planned cities and unfinished towers. 

" 'But should suspense permit the foe to cry, 
"Behold they tremble ! haughty their array. 
Yet of their number no one dares to die?" 

In soul I swept the indignity away: 
Old frailties then recurred : but lofty thought 
. In act embodied my deliverance wrought.' 

". . . upon the side 

Of Hellespont (such faith was entertained) 
A knot of spiry trees for ages grew 

From out the tomb of him for whom she died; 

And ever when such stature they had gained 
That Ilium's walls were subject to their view, 
The trees' tall summits withered at the sight, 
A constant interchange of growth and blight!" 



"the iliad" 



The war continued without decisive results for nine 
years. Then an event occurred which seemed likely to 
be fatal to the cause of the Greeks, and that was a 



216 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon. It is at this 
point that the great poem of Homer, "The Iliad," be- 
gins. The Greeks, though unsuccessful against Troy, 
had taken the neighboring and allied cities, and in the 
division of the spoil a female captive, by name Chry- 
seis, daughter of Chryses, priest _Q i Apollo , had fallen 
to the share of Agamemnori"! Chryses came bearing the 
sacred emblems of his office, and begged the release of 
his daughter. Agamemnon refused. Thereupon Chry- 
ses implored ApolloL to afflict the Greeks till they should 
be forced to yielH^eir prey. AeoUq granted the prayer 
of his priest, and sent pestilence into the Grecian camp. 
Then a council was called to deliberate how to allay the 
wrath of the gods and avert the 'plague. Achilles boldly 
charged their misfortunes upon Agamemnon as caused 
by his withholding Chryseis. Agamemnon, enraged, 
consented to relinquish his captive, but demanded that 
Achilles should yield to him in her stead Briseis, a 
maiden who had fallen to Achilles' share in the division 
of the spoil. Achilles submitted, but forthwith declared 
that he would take no further part in the war. He 
withdrew his forces from the general camp and openly 
avowed his intention of returning home to Greece. 

Xiie_goils_andgoddesses interested themselves as much 
Jntbjs famous~"war~a s the part Tes~the mselve &: 4t-^vvas a 
well known to them^^hat fate had decreed that Troy / 
should fall, at last, if her enemies should persevere and / 
not voluntarily abandon the enterprise. Yet there was 
room enough left for chance to excite by turns the hopes I 
and fears of the powers above who took part with \ 
either side. Juno and Minerva, in consequence of the^ 
slight put upon their charms by Paris,/ were hostile to 
the Trojans; Venus for the opposit^ cause favored 
them. Venus enlisted her admirer Mars on the same 
side, but Neptune favored the Greeks. ,Aollo__was 
neutral , somet imes taking one^de, sometimes the other, 
anH Jove himself, tholjgHTie lovedTthe^gooTi'King PriamT 
yet exercised a degree of impartiality; not, however, 
without exceptions. 

Thetis, the mother of Achilles, warmly resented the 
injury done to her son. She repaired immediately to 



"THE ILIAD" 217 

Jove's palace and besought him to make the Greeks re- 
pent of their injustice to Achilles by granting success 
to the Trojan arms. Jupiter consented, and in the bat- 
tle which ensued the Trojans were completely success- 
ful. The Greeks were driven from the field and took 
refuge in their ships. 

Then Agamemnon called a council of his wisest and 
bravest chiefs. Nestor advised that an embassy should 
be sent to Achilles to persuade him to return to the 
field; that Agamemnon should yield the maiden, the 
cause of tiie dispute, with ample gifts to atone for the 
wrong he had done. Agamemnon consented, and 
Ulysses, Ajax, and Phoenix were sent to carry to 
Achilles the penitent message. They performed that 
duty, but Achilles was deaf to their entreaties. He 
positively refused to return to the field, and persisted 
in his resolution to embark for Greece without delay. 

The Greeks had constructed a rampart around their 
ships, and now instead of besieging Troy they were in 
a manner besieged themselves, within their rampart. 
The next day after the unsuccessful embassy to Achil- 
les, a battle was fought, and the Trojans, favored by 
Jove, were successful, and succeeded in forcing a pas- 
sage through the Grecian rampart, and were about to 
set fire to the ships. Neptune, seeing the Greeks so 
pressed, came to their rescue. He appeared in the form 
of Calchas the prophet, encouraj. ed the warriors with 
his shouts, and appealed to each individually till he 
raised their ardor to such a pitch that they forced the 
Trojans to give way. Ajax performed prodigies of 
valor, and at length encountered Hector. Ajax shouted 
defiance, to which Hector replied, and hurled his lance 
at the huge warrior. It was well aimed and struck 
Ajax, where the belts that bore his sword and shield 
crossed each other on the breast. The double guard 
prevented its penetrating and it fell harmless. Then 
Ajax, seizing a huge stone, one of those that served to 
prop the ships, hurled it at Hector. It struck him in 
the neck and stretched him on the plain. His followers 
instantly seized him and bore him off, stunned and 
wounded. 



213 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

While Neptune was thus aiding the Greeks and driv- 
ing back the Trojans, Jupiter saw nothing of what was 
going on, for his attention had been drawn from the 
field by the wiles of Juno. That goddess had arrayed 
herself in all her charms, and to crown all had bor- 
rowed of Venus her girdle, called "Cestus," which had 
the effect to heighten the wearer's charms to such a de- 
gree that they were quite irresistible. So prepared, Juno 
went to join her husband, who sat on Olympus watch- 
ing the battle. When he beheld her she looked so charm- 
ing that the fondness of his early love revived, and, 
forgetting the contending armies and all other affairs of 
state, he thought only of her and let the battle go as 
it would. 

But this absorption did not continue long, and when, 
upon turning his eyes downward, he beheld Hector 
stretched on the plain almost lifeless from pain and 
bruises, he dismissed Juno in a rage, commanding her 
to send Iris and Apollo to him. When Iris came he 
N^_ sent her with a stern message to Neptune, ordering him 
^ instantly to quit the field. Apdlo 3^.^sdespatchedjo_. 

heal-iiector's bruise.a,jind-iQ. ins pifirJur^ art. These 
orders were obeyed with such speed that, white'^the bat- 
tle still raged, Hector returned to the field and Neptune 
betook himself to his own dominions. 

An arrow from Paris's bow wounded Machaon, son 
of ^sculapius, who inherited his father's art of heal- 
ing, and was therefore of great value to the Greeks as 
their surgeon, besides being one of their bravest war- 
riors. Nestor took Machaon in his chariot and conveyed 
him from the field. As they passed the ships of Achil- 
les, that hero, looking out over the field, saw the chariot 
of Nestor and recognized the old chi^f, but could not 
discern who the wounded chief was. So calling Patro- 
clus, his companion and dearest friend, he sent him to 
Nestor's tent to inquire. 

Patroclus, arriving at Nestor's tent, saw Machaon 
wounded, and having told the cause of his coming would 
have hastened away, but Nestor detained him, to tell 
him the extent of the Grecian calamities. He reminded 
him also how, at the time of departing for Troy, Achilles 



"THE ILIAD" 219 

and himself had been charged by their respective fathers 
with different advice : Achilles to aspire to the highest 
pitch of glory, Patroclus, as the elder, to keep watch 
over his friend, and to guide his inexperience. "Now," 
said Nestor, "is the time for such influence. If the 
gods so please, thou mayest win him back to the com 
mon cause ; but if not let him at least send his soldiers 
to the field, and come thou, Patroclus, clad in his armor, 
and perhaps the very sight of it may drive back the 
irojans. 

Patroclus was strongly moved with this address, and 
hastened back to Achilles, revolving in his mind all he 
had seen and heard. He told the prince the sad con- 
dition of affairs at the camp of their late associates : 
Diomede, Ulysses, Agamemnon, Machaon, all wounded, 
the rampart broken down, the enemy among the ships 
preparing to burn them, and thus to cut off all means 
of return to Greece. While they spoke the flames burst 
forth from one of the ships. Achilles, at the sight, re- 
lented so far as to grant Patroclus his request to lead 
the Myrmidons (for so were Achilles' soldiers called) 
to the field, and to lend him his armor, that he might 
thereby strike more terror into the minds of the Tro- 
jans. Without delay the soldiers were marshalled, 
Patroclus put on the radiant armor and mounted the 
chariot of Achilles, and led forth the men ardent fo: 
battle. But before he went, Achilles strictly charged 
him that he should be content with repelling the foe. 
"Seek not," said he, "to press the Trojans without me, 
lest thou add still more to the disgrace already mine." 
Then exhorting the troops to do their best he dismissed 
them full of ardor to the fight. 

Patroclus and his Myrmidons at once plunged <'ito 
the contest where it raged hottest ; at the sight of which 
the joyful Grecians shouted and the ships reechoed the 
acclaim. The Trojans, at the sight of the well-known 
armor, struck with terror, looked everywhere for refuge. 
First those who had got possession of the ship and set 
it on fire left and allowed the Grecians to retake it and 
extinguish the flames. Then the rest of the Trojans fled 
in dismay. Ajax, Menelaus, and the two sons of Nestor 



J?20 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

performed prodigies of valor. Hector was forced to 
turn his horses' heads and retire from the enclosure, 
leaving his men entangled in the fosse to escape as they 
could. Patroclus drove them before him, slaying many, 
none daring to make a stand against him. 

At last Sarpedon, son of Jove, ventured to oppose 
himself in fight to Patroclus. Jupiter looked down upon 
him and would have snatched him from the fate which 
awaited him, but Juno hinted that if he did so it would 
induce all others of the inhabitants of heaven to inter- 
pose in like manner whenever any of their offspring 
were endangered; to which reason Jove yielded. Sarpe- 
don threw his spear, but missed Patroclus, but Patroclus 
threw his with better success. It pierced Sarpedon's 
breast and he fell, and, calling to his friends to save 
his body from the foe, expired. Then a furious con- 
test arose for the possession of the corpse. The Greeks 
succeeded and stripped Sarpedon of his armor ; but Jove 
would not allow the remains of his son to be dishonored, 
and by his command Apollo snatched from the midst of 
the combatants the body of Sarpedon and committed it 
to the care of the twin brothers Death and Sleep, by 
whom it was transported to Lycia, the native land of 
Sarpedon, where it received due funeral rites. 

Thus far Patroclus had succeeded to his utmost wish 
in repelling the Trojans and relieving his countrymen, 
but now came a change of fortune. Hector, borne in 
his chariot, confronted him. Patroclus threw a vast 
stone at Hector, which missed its aim, but smote Ce- 
briones, the charioteer, and knocked him from the 
car. Hector leaped from the chariot to rescue his 
friend, and Patroclus also descended, to complete his 
victory. Thus the two heroes met /face to face. At 
this decisive moment the poet, as if reluctant to give 
Hector the glory, records that Phoebus took part against 
Patroclus. He struck the helmet from his head and the 
lance from his hand. At the same moment an obscure 
Trojan wounded him in the back, and Hector, press- 
ing forward, pierced him with his spear. He fell mor- 
tally wounded. 

Then arose a tremendous conflict for the body of 



1 



"THE ILIAD" 221 

Patroclus, but his armor was at once taken possession 
of by Hector, who retiring- a short distance divested 
himself of his own armor and put on that of Achilles, 
then returned to the fight. Ajax and Menelaus de- 
iended the body, and Hector and his bravest warriors 
struggled to capture it. The battle raged with equal 
fortunes, when Jove enveloped the whole face of heaven 
with a dark cloud. The lightning flashed, the thunder 
roared, and Ajax, looking round for some one whom 
he might despatch to Achilles to tell him of the death 
of his friend, and of the imminent danger that his re- 
mains would fall into the hands of the enemy, could 
see no suitable messenger. It was then that he ex- 
claimed in those famous lines so often quoted, 

"Father of heaven and earth ! deliver thou 
Achaia's host from darkness; clear the skies; 
Give day ; and, since thy sovereign will is such, 
Destruction with it; but, O, give us day." 

Cowper. 

Or, as rendered by Pope, 

". . . Lord of earth and air! 
O king! O father! hear my humble prayer! 
Dispel this cloud, the light of heaven restore; 
Give me to see and Ajax asks no more; 
If Greece must perish we thy will obey, 
But let us perish in the face of day." 

Jupiter heard the prayer and dispersed the clouds. 
Then Ajax sent Antilochus to Achilles with the intelli- 
gence of Patroclus's death, and of the conflict raging 
for his remains. The Greeks at last succeeded in bear- 
ing ofl:" the body to the ships, closely pursued by Hector 
and ^neas and the rest of the Trojans. 

Achilles heard the fate of his friend with such dis- 
tress that Antilochus feared for a while that he would 
destroy himself. His groans reached the ears of his 
mother, Thetis, far down in the deeps of ocean where 
she abode, and she hastened to him to inquire the cause. 
She found him overwhelmed with self-reproach that 
he had indulged his resentment so far, and suffered his 
friend to fall a victim to it. But his only consolation 




222 ; STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



was the hope of revenge. He would fly instaritly in 
search of Hector. But his mother reminded him that 
he was now without armor, and promised him, if he 
would but wait till the morrow, she would procure for 
him a suit of armor from Vulcan more than equal tc 
that he had lost. He consented, and Thetis immediately 
repaired to Vulcan's palace. She found him busy a( 
his forge making tripods for his own use, so artfull}' 
constructed that they moved forward of their own ac- 
cord when wanted, and retired again when dismissed. 
On hearing the request of Thetis, Vulcan immediately 
laid aside his work and hastened to comply with her 
wishes. He fabricated a splendid suit of armor for 
Achilles, first a shield adorned with elaborate devices, 
then a helmet crested with gold, then a corselet and 
greaves of impenetrable temper, all perfectly adapted 
to his form, and of consummate workmanship. It was 
all done in one night, and Thetis, receiving it, descended 
with it to earth, and laid it down at Acliilles' feet at the 
dawn of day. 

The first glow of pleasure that Achilles had felt since 
the death of Patroclus was at the sight of this splendid 
armor. And now, arrayed in it, he went forth into the 
camp, calling all the chiefs to council. When they were 
all assembled he addressed them. Renouncing his dis- 
pleasure against Agamemnon and bitterly lamenting the 
miseries that had resulted from it, he called on them to 
proceed at once to the field. Agamemnon made a suit- 
able reply, laying all the blame on Ate, the goddess of 
discord; and thereupon complete reconcilement took 
place between the heroes. 

Then Achilles went forth to battle inspired with a 
rage and thirst for vengeance that mgxie him irresistible. 
The bravest warriors fled before him or fell by his 
2ance. .Hector, cautioned by Apollo, kept aloof; but 
Jhe ^o^"~a?suiriTng_the_f5rflr^5f~one of Priam's sons7~ 

IS to encounter the terrible waf-^ 

r-UQr^ .^neas, though he felt himself unequal, did not 

decline the combat. He hurled his spear with all his 

force against the shield the work of Vulcan. It was 

yormed of five metal plates; two were of brass, two 



"THE ILIAD" (223; 

of tin, and one of gold. The spear pierced two thick- 
nesses, but was stopped in the third. Achilles threw his 
with better success. It pierced through the shield of 
^neas, but glanced near his shoulder and made no 
wound. Then ^neas seized a stone, such as two men 
of modern times could hardly lift, and was about to 
throw it, and Achilles, with sword drawn, was about 
to rush upon him, when Neptune, who looked out upon 
the contest, moved with pity for ^neas, who he saw 
would surely fall a victim if not speedily rescued, spread 
a cloud between the combatants, and lifting ^neas from 
the ground, bore him over the heads of warriors and 
steeds to the rear of the battle. Achilles, when the 
mist cleared away, looked round in vain for his ad- 
versary, and acknowledging the prodigy, turned his arms 
against other champions. But none dared stand before 
him, and Priam looking down from the city walls be- 
held his whole army in full flight towards the city. He 
gave command to open wide the gates to receive the 
fugitives, and to shut them as soon as the Trojans 
should have passed, lest the enemy should enter like- 
wise. But_Ach jlles was so close in pursuit that that 
wcaaldjiaiie-6iia impossible ii Apolto^^ha^rrotriTrTlie 
iorrasi i Ag enor. Priam's son, encountered Achilles f 
a_while,_jthn-_ turned to fly.^and taken the way apaFp 

""Trom the._xuty. ...A^hniespu rsued .a nd ha<l chased his 
'fe^ pposed victim fa^^j^onT th_j;^ails, when Apol]fi__dis^ 

Xlose dHT^selt^^jn ^Achillesj g^rceiving how he had beeiL> 
dgluHedj gave'up The cjiase ' ^^ 

But wlieTrth^resFTiad escaped into the town Hector 
stood without determined to await the combat. His 
old father called to him from the walls and begged him 
to retire nor tempt the encounter. His mother, Hecuba, 
also besought him to the same effect, but all in vain. 
''How can I," said he to himself, "by whose command 
the people went to this day's contest, where so many 
have fallen, seek safety for myself against a single foe? 
But what if I offer him to yield up Helen and all her 
treasures and ample of our own beside? Ah, no! it is 
too late. He would not even hear me through, but slay 
me while I spoke." While he thus ruminated. Achilles 




I^^S 



STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

approached, terrible as Mars, his armor flashing light- 
ning as he moved. At that sight Hector's heart failed 
him and he fled. Achilles swiftly pursued. They ran, 
still keeping near the walls, till they had thrice encircled 
the city. As often as Hector approached the walls 
Achilles intercepted him and forced him to keep out in 
a wider circle. But-^^^gollo^siislaine^ Hectof^s strength 
and would^gotlet hirn smk in wearines s. Then Pallas, 
assttrning'"lhe foTTTp-of Deiphobus^ Hector's bravest 
brother, appeared suddenly at his side. Hector saw him 
with delight, and thus strengthened stopped his flight 
and turned to meet Achilles. Hector threw his spear, 
which struck the shield of Achilles and bounded back. 
He turned to receive another from the hand of Deipho- 
bus, but Deiphobus was gone. Then Hector understood 
his doom and said, "Alas! it is plain this is my hour 
to die ! I thought Deiphobus at hand, but Pallas de- 
ceived me, and he is still in Troy. But I will not fall 
inglorious." So saying he drew his falchion from his 
side and rushed at once to combat. Achilles, secured 
behind his shield, waited the approach of Hector. When 
he came within reach of his spear, Achilles choosing 
with his eye a vulnerable part where the armor leaves 
the neck uncovered, aimed his spear at that part and 
Hector fell, death-wounded, and feebly said, "Spare my 
body ! Let my parents ransom it, and let me receive 
funeral rites from the sons and daughters of Troy." To 
which Achilles replied, "Dog, name not ransom nor pity 
to me, on whom you have brought such dire distress. 
No ! trust me, naught shall save thy carcass from the 
dogs. Though twenty ransoms and thy weight in gold 
were ofifered, I would refuse it all." 

So saying he stripped the body oi its armor, and 
fastening cords to the feet tied them behind his chariot, 
leaving the body to trail along the ground. Then mount- 
ing the chariot he lashed the steeds and so dragged the 
body to and fro before the city. What words can tell 
the grief of King Priam and Queen Hecuba at this 
sight ! His people could scarce restrain the old king 
from rushing forth. He threw himself in the dust and 
besought them each by name to give him way. Hec- 



i 




THETIS BEARING THE ARMOR OF ACHILLES. 
From painting by Francjois Gerard. 




HELEN OF TROY. 
From painting by Lord I^eighton. 




"THE ILIAD" 

uba's distress was not less violent. The citizens stood 
round them weeping. The sound of the mourning 
reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector, 
as she sat among her maidens at work, and anticipating 
evil she went forth to the wall. When she saw the 
sight there presented, she would have thrown herself 
heafdlong from the wall, but fainted and fell into the 
arms of her maidens. Recovering, she bewailed her 
fate, picturing to herself her country ruined, herself a 
captive, and her son dependent for his bread on the 
charity of strangers. 

When Achilles and the Greeks had taken their re- 
venge on the killer of Patroclus they busied themselves 
in paying due funeral rites to their friend. A pile was 
erected, and the body burned with due solemnity; and 
then ensued games of strength and skill, chariot races, 
wrestling, boxing, and archery. Then the chiefs sat 
down to the funeral banquet and after that retired to 
rest. But Achilles neither partook of the feast nor of 
sleep. The recollection of his lost friend kept him 
awake, remembering their companionship in toil and 
dangers, in battle or on the perilous deep. Before the 
earliest dawn he left his tent, and joining to his chariot 
his swift steeds, he fastened Hector's body to be dragged 
behind. Twice he dragged him around the tomb of /y 
Patroclus, leaving him at length stretched in the dust. 'cV' 
But Apollo would not permit the body to be torn or ^\\^ 
djggOTTfpd witFi al l thi^ ah^^se, but p xfisgrved^ it free 7o m ^^ 

all taint or defilement. 

"White^Achilles indulged his wrath in thus disgracing 
brave Hector, Jupiter in pity summoned Thetis to his 
presence. He told her to go to her son and prevail on 
him to restore the body of Hector to his friends. Then 
Jupiter sent Iris to King Priam to encourage him to go 
to Achilles and beg the body of his son. Iris delivered 
her message, and Priam immediately prepared to obey. 
He opened his treasuries and took out rich garments and 
cloths, with ten talents in gold and two splendid tripods 
and a golden cup of matchless workmanship. Then he 
called to his sons and bade them draw fortli his litter 
and place in it the various articles designed for a ransom 






226 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

to Achilles. When all was ready, the old king with a 
single companion as aged as himself, the herald Idaeus, 
drove forth from the gates, parting there with Hecuba, 
his queen, and all his friends, who lamented him as 
going to certain death. 

But Jupiter, beholding with compassion the venerable 
king, sent Mercury to be his guide and protector. Mer- 
cury, assuming the form of a young warrior, presented 
himself to the aged couple, and while at the sight of him 
they hesitated whether to fly or yield, the god ap- 
proached, and grasping Priam's hand offered to be their 
guide to Achilles' tent. Priam gladly accepted his 
offered service, and he, mounting the carriage, assumed 
the reins and soon conveyed them to the tent of Achilles. 
Mercury's wand put to sleep all the guards, and without 
hinderance he introduced Priam into the tent where 
Achilles sat, attended by two of his warriors. The old 
king threw himself at the feet of Achilles, and kissed 
those terrible hands which had destroyed so many of his 
sons, -^^hink, O Achilles," he said, "of thy own father, 
full of days like me, and trembling on the gloomy verge 
of life. Perhaps even now some neighbor chief op- 
presses him and there is none at hand to succor him in 
his distress. Yet doubtless knowing that Achilles lives he 
still rejoices, hoping that one day he shall see thy face 
again. But no comfort cheers me, whose bravest sons, so 
late the flower of Ilium, all have fallen. Yet one I had, 
one more than all the rest the strength of my age, whom, 
fighting for his country, thou hast slain. I come to 
redeem his body, bringing inestimable ransom with me. 
Achilles ! reverence the gods ! recollect thy father ! for 
his sake show compassion to me !" These words moved 
Achilles, and he wept ; remembering by turns his absent 
father and his lost friend. Moved with pity of Priam's 
silver locks and beard, he raised him from the earth, 
and thus spake : "Priam, I know that thou hast reached 
this place conducted by some god, for without aid divine 
no mortal even in his prime of youth had dared the 
attempt. I grant thy request, moved thereto by the 
evident will of Jove." So saying he arose, and went 
forth with his two friends, and unloaded of its charge 



THE FALL OF TROY 227 

the litter, leaving two mantles and a robe for the cover- 
ing of the body, which they placed on the litter, and 
spread the garments over it, that not unveiled it should 
be borne back to Troy. Then Achilles dismissed the old 
king with his attendants, having first pledged himself to 
allow a truce of twelve days for the funeral solemnities. 

As the litter approached the city and was descried from 
the walls, the people poured forth to gaze once more on 
the face of their hero. Foremost of all, the mother and 
the wife of Hector came, and at the sight of the lifeless 
body renewed their lamentations. The people all wept 
with them, and to the going down of the sun there was 
no pause or abatement of their grief. 

The next day preparations were made for the funeral 
solemnities. For nine days the people brought wood 
and built the pile, and on the tenth they placed the body 
on the summit and applied the torch ; while all Troy 
thronging forth encompassed the pile. When it had 
completely burned, they quenched the cinders with wine, 
collected the bones and placed them in a golden urn, 
which they buried in the earth, and reared a pile of 
stones over the spot. 

"Such honors Ihum to her hero paid, 
And peaceful slept the mighty Hector's shade." 

Pope. 



CHAPTER XXVni 

THE FALL OF TROY RETURN OF THE GREEKS ORESTES 

AND ELECTRA 

THE FALL OF TROY 

The story of the Iliad ends with the death of Hec- 
tor, and it is from the Odyssey and later poems that 
we learn the fate of the other heroes. After the death 
of Hector, Troy did not immediately fall, but receiv- 
ing aid from new allies still continued its resistance. 
One of these allies was Memnon, the .Ethiopian prince. 



228 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

whose story we have already told. Another was Pen- 
thesilea, queen of the Amazons, who came with a band 
of female warriors. All the authorities attest their valor 
and the fearful effect of their war cry. Penthesilea 
slew many of the bravest warriors, but was at last slain 
by Achilles. But when the hero bent over his fallen 
foe, and contemplated her beauty, youth, and valor, he 
bitterly regretted his victory. Thersites, an insolent 
brawler and demagogue, ridiculed his grief, and was in 
consequence slain by the hero. 

Achilles by chance had seen Polyxena, daughter of 
King Priam, perhaps on the occasion of the truce which 
was allowed the Trojans for the burial of Hector. He 
was captivated with her charms, and to win her in mar- 
riage agreed to use his influence with the Greeks to 
grant peace to Troy. While in the temple of Apollo, 
negotiating the marriage, Paris discharged at him a 
poisoned arrow, which, guided by Apollo, ^j ^xuia4ed- 
Achilles in the heel, tjie oiily vulnerable part about him. 
FoFT"h'etis~hTsTTT"other had dipped him when an infant 
in the river Styx, which made every part of him invul- 
nerable except the heel by which she held him.^ 

The body of Achilles so treacherously slain was 
rescued by Ajax and Ulysses. Thetis directed the 
Greeks to bestow her son's armor on the hero who of 
all the survivors should be judged most deserving of it. 
Ajax and Ulysses were the only claimants; a select 
number of the other chiefs were appointed to award 
the prize. It was awarded to Ulysses, thus placing wis- 
dom before valor; whereupon Ajax slew himself. On 
the spot where his blood sank into the earth a flower 
sprang up, called the hyacinth, bearing on its leaves the 
first two letters of the name of Aja^Jc, Ai, the Greek 
for "woe." Thus Ajax is a claimant with the boy 
Hyacinthus for the honor of giving birth to this flower. 
There is a species of Larkspur which represents the 
hyacinth of the poets in preserving the memory of this 
event, the Delphinium Ajacis Ajax's Larkspur. 

^ The story of the invulnerability of Achilles is not found in Homer, 
and is inconsistent with his account. For how could Achilles require th 
aid of celestial armor if he were invulnerable? 



THE FALL OF TROY 229 

It was now discovered that Troy could not be taken 
but by the aid of the arrows of Hercules. They were 
in possession of Philoctetes, the friend who had been 
with Hercules at the last and lighted his funeral pyre. 
Philoctetes had joined the Grecian expedition against 
Troy, but had accidentally wounded his foot with one 
of the poisoned arrows, and the smell from his wound 
proved so offensive that his companions carried him to 
the isle of Lemnos and left him there. Diomed was 
now sent to induce him to rejoin the army. He suc- 
ceeded. Philoctetes was cured of his wound by Ma- 
chaon, and Paris was the first victim of the fatal arrows. 
In his distress Paris bethought him of one whom in 
his prosperity he had forgotten. This was the nymph 
CEnone, whom he had married when a youth, and had 
abandoned for the fatal beauty Helen. CEnone, remem- 
bering the wrongs she had suffered, refused to heal the 
wound, and Paris went back to Troy and died. (Enone 
quickly repented, and hastened after him with remedies, 
but came too late, and in her grief hung herself.^ 

There was in Troy a celebrated statue of Minerva 
called the Palladium. It was said to have fallen from 
heaven, and the belief was that the city could not be 
taken so long as this statue remained within it. Ulysses 
and Diomed entered the city in disguise and succeeded 
in obtaining the Palladium, which they carried off to the 
Grecian camp. 

But Troy still held out, and the Greeks began to 
despair of ever subduing it by force, and by advice of 
Ulysses resolved to resort to stratagem. They pre- 
tended to be making preparations to abandon the siege, 
and a portion of the ships were withdrawn and lay hid 
behind a neighboring island. The Greeks then con- 
structed an immense ivooden horse, which they gave out 
was intended as a propitiatory offering to Minerva, but in 
fact was filled with armed men. The remaining Greeks 
then betook themselves to their ships and sailed away, 
as if for a final departure. The Trojans, seeing the en- 

* Tennyson has chosen OTnone as the subject of a short poem; but he 
has omitted the most poetical part of the story, the return of Paris 
wounded, her cruelty and subsequent repentance. 



230 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

campment broken up and the fleet gone, concluded the 
enemy to have abandoned the siege. The gates were 
thrown open, and the whole population issued forth 
rejoicing at the long-prohibited liberty of. passing freely 
over the scene of the late encampment. The great 
horse was the chief object of curiosity. All wondered 
what it could be for. Some recommended to take it 
into the city as a trophy; others felt afraid of it. 

While they hesitate, Laocoon, the priest of Neptune 
exclaims, "What madness, citizens, is this? Have yot 
not learned enough of Grecian fraud to be on your 
guard against it? For my part, I fear the Greeks even 
when they offer gifts." ^ So saying he threw his lance 
at the horse's side. It struck, and a hollow sound 
reverberated like a groan. Then perhaps the people 
might have taken his advice and destroyed the fatal 
horse and all its contents; but just at that moment a 
group of people appeared, dragging forward one who 
seemed a prisoner and a Greek. Stupefied with terror, 
he was brought before the chiefs, who reassured him, 
promising that his life should be spared on condition of 
his returning true answers to the questions asked him. 
He informed them that he was a Greek, Sinon by 
name, and that in consequence of the malice of Ulysses 
he had been left behind by his countrymen at their de- 
parture. With regard to the wooden horse, he told 
them that it was a propitiatory offering to Minerva, 
and made so huge for the express purpose of preventing 
its being carried within the city ; for Calchas the prophet 
had told them that if the Trojans took possession of 
it they would assuredly triumph over the Greeks. This 
language turned the tide of the people's feelings and 
they began to think how they might b^t secure the mon- 
strous horse and the favorable auguries connected with 
it, when suddenly a prodig}' occurred which left no 
room to doubt. There appeared, advancing over the 
sea, two immense serpents. They came upon the land, 
and the crowd fled in all directions. The serpents ad- 
vanced directly to the spot where Laocoon stood with 
his two sons. They first attacked the children, winding 

* See Proverbial Expressions. 



THE FALL OF TROY 231 

round their bodies and breathing their pestilential breath 
in their faces. The father, attempting to rescue them, 
is next seized and involved in the serpents' coils. He 
struggles to tear them away, but they overpower all his 
efforts and strangle him and the children in their poison- 
ous folds. This event was regarded as a clear indication 
of the displeasure of the gods at Laocoon's irreverent 
treatment of the wooden horse, which they no longer 
hesitated to regard as a sacred object, and prepared to 
introduce with due solemnity into the city. This was 
done with songs and triumphal acclamations, and the 
day closed with festivity. In the night the armed men 
who were enclosed in the body of the horse, being let 
out by the traitor Sinon. opened the gates of the city 
to their friends, who had returned under cover of the 
night. The city was set on lire ; the people, overcome 
with feasting and sleep, put to the sword, and Troy 
completely subdued. 

One of the most celebrated groups of statuary in ex- 
istence is that of Laocoon and his children in the em- 
brace of the serpents. A cast of it is owned by the Bos- 
ton Athenaeum ; the original is in the Vatican at Rome. 
The following lines are from the "Childe Harold" of 
Byron : 

"Now turning to the Vatican go see 
Laocoon's torture dignifying pain; 
A father's love and mortal's agony 
With an immortal's patience blending; vain 
The struggle! vain against the coiling strain 
And gripe and deepening of the dragon's grasp 
The old man's clinch; the long envenomed chain 
Rivets the living links ; the enormous asp 
Enforces pang on pang and stifles gasp on gasp." 

The comic poets will also occasionally borrow a classi- 
cal allusion. The following is from Swift's "Descrip- 
tion of a City Shower" : 

"Boxed in a chair the beau impatient sits, 
While spouts run clattering o'er the roof by fits, 
And ever and anon with frightful din 
The leather sounds; he trembles from within. 




232 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed 
Pregnant with Greeks impatient to be freed, 
(Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do, 
Instead of paying chairmen, run them through) ; 
Laocoon struck the outside with a spear, 
And each imprisoned champion quaked with fear." 

King Priam lived to see the downfall of his kingdom 
and was slain at last on the fatal night when the Greeks 
took the city. He had armed himself and was about 
to mingle with the combatants, but was prevailed on by 
Hecuba, his aged queen, to take refuge with herself 
and his daughters as a suppliant at the altar of Jupiter. 
While there, his youngest son Polites, pursued by 
Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, rushed in wounded, and 
expired at the feet of his father; whereupon Priam, 
overcome with indignation, hurled his spear with feeble 
hand against Pyrrhus,^ and was forthwith slain by him. 
^^ Queen Hecuba and her daughter Cassandra were 
carried captives to Greece. Cassandra had been loved ' 
by Apollo, and he gave her the gift of prophecy; "^t 
afterwards offended with her, he rendered the gift un- 
availing by ordaining that her predictions should never 
be believed. Polyxena, another daughter, who had 
been loved by Achilles, was demanded by the ghost of 
that warrior, and was sacrificed by the Greeks upon his 
tomb. 

MENELAUS AND HELEN 

Our readers will be anxious to know the fate of 
Helen, the fair but guilty occasion of so much slaughter. 
On the fall of Troy Menelaus recovered possession of 
his wife, who had not ceased to love him, though she 
had yielded to the might of Venus ai>d deserted him for 
another. After the death of Paris she aided the Greeks 
secretly on several occasions, and in particular when 
Ulysses and Diomed entered the city in disguise to 
carry off the Palladium. She saw and recognized 
Ulysses, but kept the secret and even assisted them in 
obtaining the image. Thus she became reconciled to 

^ Pyrrhus's exclamation, "Not such aid nor such defenders does th< 
time require," has become proverbial. See Proverbial Expressions. 



1 



AGAMEMNON, ORESTES, AND ELECTRA 233 

her husband, and they were among the first to leave 
the shores of Troy for their native land. But having 
incurred the displeasure of the gods they were driven by 
storms from shore to shore of the Mediterranean, visit- 
ing Cyprus, Phoenicia, and Egypt. In Egypt they were 
kindly treated and presented with rich gifts, of which 
Helen's share was a golden spindle and a basket on 
wheels. The basket was to hold the wool and spools 
for the queen's work. 

Dyer, in his poem of the "Fleece," thus alludes to 
this incident : 

". . . many yet adhere 
To the ancient distaff, at the bosom fixed, 
Casting the whirhng spindle as they walk. 

This was of old, in no inglorious days, 
The mode of spinning, when the Egyptian prince 
A golden distaff gave that beauteous nymph, 
Too beauteous Helen; no uncourtly gift." 

Milton also alludes to a famous recipe for an invig- 
orating draught, called Nepenthe, which the Egyptian 
queen gave to Helen : 

"Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone 
In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena, 
Is of such power to stir up joy as this. 
To life so friendly or so cool to thirst." 

Comus. 

Menelaus and Helen at length arrived in safety at 
Sparta, resumed their royal dignity, and lived and 
reigned in splendor; and when Telemachus, the son of 
Ulysses, in search of his father, arrived at Sparta, he 
found Menelaus and Helen celebrating the marriage of 
their daughter Hermione to Neoptolemus, son of 
Achilles. 

AGAMEMNON, ORESTES, AND ELECTRA 

Agamemnon, the general-in-chief of the Greeks, the 
brother of Menelaus, and who had been drawn into 
the quarrel to avenge his brother's wrongs, not his own. 



234 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

was not so fortunate in the issue. During his absence 
his wife Clytemnestra had been false to him, and when 
his return was expected, she with her paramour, ^gis- 
thus, laid a plan for his destruction, and at the banquet 
given to celebrate his return, murdered him. 

It was intended by the conspirators to slay his son 
Orestes also, a lad not yet old enough to be an object 
of apprehension, but from whom, if he should be suf- 
fered to grow up, there might be danger. Electra, the 
sister of Orestes, saved her brother's life by sending 
him secretly away to his uncle Strophius, King of 
Phocis. In the palace of Strophius Orestes grew up 
with the king's son Pylades, and formed with him that 
ardent friendship which has become proverbial. Electra 
frequently reminded her brother by messengers of the 
duty of avenging his father's death, and when grown up 
he consulted the oracle of Delphi, which confirmed him 
in his design. He therefore repaired in disguise to 
Argos, pretending to be a messenger from Strophius, who 
had come to announce the death of Orestes, and brought 
the ashes of the deceased in a funeral urn. After visit- 
ing his father's tomb and sacrificing upon it, according 
to the rites of the ancients, he made himself known to 
his sister Electra, and soon after slew both ^gisthus 
and Clytemnestra. 

This revolting act, the slaughter of a mother by her 
son, though alleviated by the guilt of the victim and 
the express command of the gods, did not fail to awaken 
in the breasts of the ancients the same abhorrence that 
it does in ours. The Eumenides, avenging deities, 
seized upon Orestes, and drove him frantic from land 
to land. Pylades accompanied him in his wanderings 
and watched over him. At length, in/answer to a second 
appeal to the oracle, he was directed to go to Tauris in 
Scythia, and to bring thence a statue of Diana which 
was believed to have fallen from heaven. Accordingly 
Orestes and Pylades went to Tauris, where the barbar- 
ous people were accustomed to sacrifice to the goddess 
all strangers who fell into their hands. The two friends 
were seized and carried bound to the temple to be made 
victims. But the priestess of Diana was no other than 



AGAMEMNON, ORESTES, AND ELECTRA 235 

Iphigenia, the sister of Orestes, who, our readers will 
remember, was snatched away by Diana at the moment 
when she was about to be sacrificed. Ascertaining from 
the prisoners who they were, Iphigenia disclosed herself 
to them, and the three made their escape with the statue 
of the goddess, and returned to Mycenae. 

But Orestes was not yet relieved from the vengeance 
of the Erinyes. At length he took refuge with Minerva 
at Athens. The goddess afforded him protection, and 
appointed the court of Areopagus to decide his fate. 
The Erinyes brought forward their accusation, and 
Orestes made the command of the Delphic oracle his 
excuse. When the court voted and the voices were 
equally divided, Orestes was acquitted by the command 
of Minerva. 

Byron, in "Childe Harold," Canto IV., alludes to the 
story of Orestes : 

"O thou who never yet of human wrong 
Left the unbalanced scale, great Nemesis! 
Thou who didst call the Furies from the abyss, 
And round Orestes bade them howl and hiss, 
For that unnatural retribution, just. 
Had it but been from hands less near, in this, 
Thy former realm, I call thee from the dust !" 

One of the most pathetic scenes in the ancient drama 
is that in which Sophocles represents the meeting of 
Orestes and Electra, on his return from Phocis. Ores- 
tes, mistaking Electra for one of the domestics, and 
desirous of keeping his arrival a secret till the hour of 
vengeance should arrive, produces the urn in which 
his ashes are supposed to rest. Electra, believing him 
to be really dead, takes the urn and, embracing it, 
pours forth her grief in language full of tenderness and 
despair. 

Milton, in one of his sonnets, says : 

". . . The repeated air 
Of sad Electra's poet had the power _ 
To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.'* 



236 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

This alludes to the story that when, on one occasion, 
the city of Athens was at the mercy of her Spartan foes, 
and it was proposed to destroy it, the thought was re- 
jected upon the accidental quotation, by some one, of 
a chorus of Euripides. 

TROY 

After hearing so much about the city of Troy and 
its heroes, the reader will perhaps be surprised to learn 
that the exact site of that famous city is still a matter 
of dispute. There are some vestiges of tombs on the 
plain which most nearly answers to the description given 
by Homer and the ancient geographers, but no other 
evidence of the former existence of a great city. Byron 
thus describes the present appearance of the scene : 

"The winds are high, and Helle's tide 

Rolls darkly heaving to the main ; 

And night's descending shadows hide 

That field with blood bedewed in vain, 
The desert of old Priam's pride, 
The tombs, sole relics of his reign, 
All save immortal dreams that could beguile 
The blind old man of Scio's rocky isle." 

Bride of Abydos. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

ADVENTURES OF ULYSSES THE LOTUS-EATERS CYCLOPES 

CIRCE SIRENS SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS CALYPSO 

__ RETURN OF ULYSSES 

The romantic poem of the Odyssey is now to engage 
our attention. It narrates the wanderings of Ulysses 
(Odysseus in the Greek language) in his return from 
Troy to his own kingdom Ithaca. 

From Troy the vessels first made land at Ismarus, 
city of the Ciconians, where, in a skirmish with the 
inhabitants, Ulysses lost six men from each ship. Sail- 
ing thence, they were overtaken by a storm which drove 



I 



RETURN OF ULYSSES 237 

them for nine days along the sea till they reached the 
country of the Lotus-eaters. Here, after watering, 
Ulysses sent three of his men to discover who the in- 
habitants were. These men on coming among the Lotus- 
eaters were kindly entertained by them, and were given 
some of their own food, the lotus-plant, to eat. The 
effect of this food was such that those who partook of 
it lost all thoughts of home and wished to remain in 
that country. It was by main force that Ulysses dragged 
these men away, and he was even obliged to tie them 
under the benches of the ships. ^ 

They next arrived at the country of the Cyclopes: 
The Cyclopes were giants, who inhabited an island of 
which they were the only possessors. The name means 
"round eye," and these giants were so called because 
they had but one eye, and that placed in the middle of 
the forehead. They dwelt in caves and fed on the wild 
productions of the island and on what their flocks 
yielded, for they were shepherds. Ulysses left the 
main body of his ships at anchor, and with one vessel 
went to the Cyclopes' island to explore for supplies. He 
landed with his companions, carrying with them a jar of 
wine for a present, and coming to a large cave they 
entered it, and finding no one within examined its con- 
tents. They found it stored with the richest of the 
flock, quantities of cheese, pails and bowls of milk, 
lambs and kids in their pens, all in nice order. Presently 
arrived the master of the cave, Polyphemus, bearing an 
immense bundle of firewood, which he threw down be- 
fore the cavern's mouth. He then drove into the cave 

^ Tennyson in the "Lotus-eaters" has charmingly expressed the dreamy, 
languid feeling which the lotus food is said to have produced. 

"How sweet it were, hearing the downward stream 
W^ith half-shut eyes ever to seem 
Falling asleep in a half dream! 
To dream and dream, like yonder amber light 
Which will not leave the myrrh-bush on the height; 
To hear each others' whisperecl speech; 
Eating the Lotos, day by day. 
To watch the crisping ripples on the beach. 
And tender curving lines of creamy spray: 
To lend our hearts and spirits wholly 
To the influence of mild-minded melancholy; 
To muse and brood and live again in memory. 
With those old faces of our infancy 
Heaped over with a mound of grass, 
Two handfuls of white dust, shut in an urn of brass," 



238 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

the sheep and goats to be milked, and, entering, rolled 
to the cave's mouth an enormous rock, that twenty oxen 
could not draw. Next he sat down and milked his 
ewes, preparing a part for cheese, and setting the rest 
aside for his customary drink. Then, turning round 
his great eye, he discerned the strangers, and growled 
out to them, demanding who they were, and where from. 
Ulysses replied most humbly, stating that they were 
Greeks, from the great expedition that had lately won 
so much glory in the conquest of Troy; that they were 
now on their way home, and finished by imploring his 
hospitality in the name of the gods. Polyphemus 
deigned no answer, but reaching out his hand seized 
two of the Greeks, whom he hurled against the side of 
the cave, and dashed out their brains. He proceeded 
to devour them with great relish, and having made a 
hearty meal, stretched himself out on the floor to sleep. 
Ulysses was tempted to seize the opportunity and plunge 
his sword into him as he slept, but recollected that it 
would only expose them all to certain destruction, as the 
rock with which the giant had closed up the door was far 
beyond their power to remove, and they would there- 
fore be in hopeless imprisonment. Next morning the 
giant seized two more of the Greeks, and despatched 
them in the same manner as their companions, feasting 
on their flesh till no fragment was left. He then moved 
away the rock from the door, drove out his flocks, and 
went out, carefully replacing the barrier after him. 
When he was gone Ulysses planned how he might take 
vengeance for his murdered friends, and etlect his 
escape with his surviving companions. He made his men 
prepare a massive bar of wood cut by the Cyclops for 
a staff, which they found in the cave/ They sharpened 
the end of it, and seasoned it in the fire, and hid it 
under the straw on the cavern floor. Then four of 
the boldest were selected, Avith whom Ulysses joined 
himself as a fifth. The Cyclops came home at evening, 
rolled away the stone and drove in his flock as usual. 
After milking them and making his arrangements as be- 
fore, he seized two more of Ulysses' companions and 
dashed their brains out, and made his evening meal 



RETURN OF ULYSSES 239 

upon them as he had on the others. After he had 
supped, Ulysses approaching him handed him a bowl of 
wine, saying, ''Cyclops, this is wine; taste and drink 
after thy meal of men's flesh." He took and drank it, 
ana was hugely delighted with it, and called for more. 
Ulysses supplied him once again, which pleased the giant 
so much that he promised him as a favor that he should 
be the last of the party devoured. He asked his name, 
to which Ulysses replied, "My name is Noman." 

After his supper the giant lay down to repose, and 
was soon sound asleep. Then Ulysses with his four 
sdect friends thrust the end of the stake into the fire 
till it was all one burning coal, then poising it exactly 
above the giant's only eye, they buried it deeply into 
the socket, twirling it round as a carpenter does his 
auger. The howling monster with his outcry filled the 
cavern, and Ulysses with his aids nimbly got out of 
his way and concealed themselves in the cave. He, 
bellowing, called aloud on all the Cyclopes dwelling in 
the caves around him, far and near. They on his cry 
flocked round the den, and inquired what grievous hurt 
had caused him to sound such an aiarm and break their 
slumbers. He replied, "O friends, I die, and Noman 
grv-es the blow." They answered, 'Tf no man hurts thee 
it is the stroke of Jove, and thou must bear it." So 
saying, they left him. groaning. 

Next morning the Cyclops rolled away the stone to 
let his flock out to pasture, but planted himself in the 
door of the cave to feel of all as they went out, that 
Ulysses and his men should not escape with them. But 
Ulysses had made his men harness the rams of the 
flock three abreast, with osiers which they found on the 
floor of the cave. To the middle ram of the three one 
of the Greeks suspended himself, so protected by the 
exterior rams on either side. As they passed, the giant 
felt of the animals' backs and sides, but never thought 
of their bellies ; so the men all passed safe, Ulysses him- 
self being on the last one that passed. When they had 
got a few paces from the cavern, Ulysses and his friends 
released themselves from their rams, and drove a good 
part of the flock down to the shore to their boat. They 



240 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

put them aboard with all haste, then pushed off from 
the shore, and when at a safe distance Ulysses shouted 
out, "Cyclops, the gods have well requited thee for thy 
atrocious deeds. Know it is Ulysses to whom thou 
owest thy shameful loss of sight." The Cyclops, hear- 
ing this, seized a rock that projected from the side of 
the mountain, and rending it from its bed, he lifted 
it high in the air, then exerting all his force, hurled it 
in the direction of the voice. Down came the mass, 
just clearing the vessel's stern. The ocean, at the plunge 
of the huge rock, heaved the ship towards the land, so 
that it barely escaped being swamped by the waves. 
When they had with the utmost difficulty pulled off 
shore, Ulysses was about to hail the giant again, but 
his friends besought him not to do so. He could not 
forbear, however, letting the giant know that they had 
escaped his missile, but waited till they had reached a 
safer distance than before. The giant answered them 
with curses, but Ulysses and his friends plied their oars 
vigorously, and soon regained their companions. 

Ulysses next arrived at the island of ^Eolus. To this 
monarch Jupiter had intrusted the government of the 
winds, to send them forth or retain them at his will. 
He treated Ulysses hospitably, and at his departure gave 
hirn, tied up in a leathern bag, with a silver string, 
such winds as might be hurtful and dangerous, com- 
manding fair winds to blow the barks towards their coun- 
try. Nine days they sped before the wind, and all that 
time Ulysses had stood at the helm, without sleep. At 
last quite exhausted he lay down to sleep. While he 
slept, the crew conferred together about the mysterious 
bag, and concluded it must contain /reasures given by 
the hospitable king ^olus to their commander. Tempt- 
ed to secure some portion for themselves, they loosed 
the string, when immediately the winds rushed forth. 
The ships were driven far from their course, and back 
again to the island they had just left, ^olus was so 
indignant at their folly that he refused to assist them 
further, and they were obliged to labor over their course 
once more by means of their oars. 




LAOCOON, WITH SONS. 
Vatican Museum, Rome. 



THE L^STRYGONIANS 241 



THE LvESTRYGONIANS 

Their next adventure was with the barbarous tribe 
of Lsestrygonians. The vessels all pushed into the har- 
bor, tempted by the secure appearance of the cove, com- 
pletely land-locked; only Ulysses moored his vessel 
without. As soon as the Laestrygonians found the ships 
completely in their power they attacked them, heaving 
huge stones which broke and overturned them, and with 
.their spears despatched the seamen as they struggled 
in the water. All the vessels with their crews were de- 
stroyed, except Ulysses' ov/n ship, which had remained 
outside, and finding no safety but in flight, he exhorted 
his rnen to ply their oars vigorously, and they escaped 

With grief for their slain companions mixed with joy 
at their own escape, they pursued their way till they 
arrived at the ^asan isle, where Circe dwelt, the daugh- 
ter of the sun. Landing here, Ulysses climbed a hill, 
and gazing round saw no signs of habitation except in 
one spot at the centre of the island, where he perceived 
a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one- 
half of his crew, under the command of Eurylochus, to 
see what prospect of hospitality they might find. As 
they approached the palace, they found themselves sur- 
rounded by lions, tigers, and wolves, not fierce, but tamed 
by Circe's art, for she was a powerful magician. All 
these animals had once been men, but had been changed 
by Circe's enchantments into the forms of beasts. The 
sounds of soft music were heard from within, and a 
sweet female voice singing. Eurylochus called aloud 
and the goddess came forth and invited them in ; they 
all gladly entered except Eurylochus, who suspected dan- 
ger. The goddess conducted her guests to a seat, and 
had them served with wine and other delicacies. When 
they had feasted heartily, she touched them one by one 
with her wand, and they became immediately changed 
into swine, in "head, body, voice, and bristles," yet with 
their intellects as before. She shut them in her sties 
and supplied them with acorns and such other things 
as swine love. 

Eurylochus hurried back to the ship and told the 



242 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

tale. Ulysses thereupon determined to go himself, and 
try if by any means he might deliver his companions. 
As he strode onward alone, he met a youth who ad- 
dressed him familiarly, appearing to be acquainted with 
his adventures. He announced himself as Mercury, and 
informed Ulysses of the arts of Circe, and of the dan- 
ger of approaching her. As Ulysses was not to be dis- 
suaded from his attempt, Mercury provided him with 
a sprig of the plant Moly, of wonderful power to resist 
sorceries, and instructed him how to act. Ulysses pro-, 
ceeded, and reaching the palace was courteously received 
by Circe, who entertained him as she had done his com- 
panions, and after he had eaten and drank, touched 
him with her wand, saying, "Hence, seek the sty and 
wallow with thy friends.'' But he, instead of obeying,* 
drew his sword and rushed upon her with fury in his 
countenance. She fell on her knees and begged for 
mercy. He dictated a solemn oath that she would re- 
lease his companions and practise no further harm 
against him or them ; and she repeated it, at the same 
time promising to dismiss them all in safety after hos- 
pitably entertaining them. She was as good as her 
word. The men were restored to their shapes, the rest 
of the crew summoned from the shore, and the whole 
magnificently entertained day after day, till Ulysses 
seemed to have forgotten his native land, and to have 
reconciled himself to an inglorious life of ease and 
pleasure.- - 

At length his companions recalled him to nobler sen- 
timents, and he received their admonition gratefully. 
Circe aided their departure, and instructed them how to 
pass safely by the coast of the Sirens. The Sirens were 
sea-nymphs who had the power of cnarming by their 
song all who heard them, so that the unhappy mariners 
were irresistibly impelled to cast themselves into the sea 
to their destruction. Circe directed Ulysses to fill the 
ears of his seamen with wax, so that they should not 
hear the strain; and to cause himself to be bound to the 
mast, and his people to be strictly enjoined, whatever 
he might say or do, by no means to release him till they 
should have passed the Sirens' island. Ulysses obeyed 



SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 243 

these directions. He filled the ears of his people wfth 
wax, and suffered them to bind him with cords firmly 
to the mast. As they approached the Sirens' island, 
the sea was calm, and over the waters came the notes of 
music so ravishing and attractive that Ulysses struggled 
to get loose, and by cries and signs to his people begged 
to be released ; but they, obedient to his previous orders, 
sprang forward and bound him still faster. They held 
on their course, and the music grew fainter till it ceased 
to be heard, when with joy Ulysses gave his companions 
the signal to unseal their ears, and they relieved him 
from his bonds. 

The imagination of a modern poet, Keats, has dis- 
covered for us the thoughts that passed through the 
brains of the victims of Circe, after their transforma- 
tion. In his "Endymion" he represents one of them, a 
monarch in the guise of an elephant, addressing the sor- 
ceress in human language, thus : 

"I sue not for my happy crown again ; 
I sue not for my phalanx on the plain ; 
I sue not for my lone, my widowed wife; 
I sue not for my ruddy drops of life, 
My children fair, my lovely girls and boys; 
I will forget them ; I will pass these joys. 
Ask nought so heavenward ; so too too high ; 
Only I pray, as fairest boon, to die; 
To be delivered from this cumbrous flesh, 
From this gross, detestable, filthy mesh. 
And merely given to the cold, bleak air. 
Have mercy, goddess ! Circe, feel my prayer !" 

SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS 

Ulysses had been warned by Circe of the two mon- 
sters Scylla and Charybdis. We have already met with 
Scylla in the story of Glaucus, and remember that she 
was once a beautiful maiden and was changed into a 
snaky monster by Circe. She dwelt in a cave high up on 
the cliff, from whence she was accustomed to thrust 
forth her long necks (for she had six heads), and in 
each of her mouths to seize one of the crew of every 
vessel passing within reach. The other terror, Charyb- 



244 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

dis, was a gulf, nearly on a level with the water. Thrice 
each day the water rushed into a frightful chasm, and 
thrice was disgorged. Any vessel coming near the whirl- 
pool when the tide was rushing in must inevitably be 
ingulfed; not Neptune himself could save it. 

On approaching the haunt of the dread monsters, 
Ulysses kept strict watch to discover them. The roar 
of the waters as Charybdis ingulfed them, gave warn- 
ing at a distance, but Scylla could nowhere be discerned. 
While Ulysses and his men watched with anxious eyes 
the dreadful whirlpool, they were not equally on their 
guard from the attack of Scylla, and the monster, dart- 
ing forth her snaky heads, caught six of his men, and 
bore them away, shrieking, to her den. It was the sad- 
dest sight Ulysses had yet seen ; to behold his friends 
thus sacrificed and hear their cries, unable to afford them 
any assistance. 

Circe had warned him of another danger. After pass- 
ing Scylla and Charybdis the next land he would make 
was Thrinakia, an island whereon were pastured the 
cattle of Hyperion, the Sun, tended by his daughters 
Lampetia and Phaethusa. These flocks must not be vio- 
lated, whatever the wants of the voyagers might be. If 
this injunction were transgressed destruction was sure 
to fall on the offenders. 

Ulysses would willingly have passed the island of 
the Sun without stopping, but his companions so ur- 
gently pleaded for the rest and refreshment that woul 1 
be derived from anchoring and passing the night on 
shore, that Ulysses yielded. He bound them, however, 
with an oath that they would not touch one of the 
animals of the sacred flocks and herds, but content 
themselves with what provision they yet had left of the 
supply which Circe had put on board. So long as this 
supply lasted the people kept their oath, but contrary 
winds detained them at the island for a month, and after 
consuming all their stock of provisions, they were forced 
to rely upon the birds and fishes they could catch. 
Famine pressed them, and at length one day, in the ab- 
sence of Ulysses, they slew some of the cattle, vainly 
attempting to make amends for the deed by offering 



CALYPSO 245 

from them a portion to the offended powers. Ulysses, 
on his return to the shore, was horror-struck at per-, 
ceiving what they had done, and the more so on account 
of the portentous signs which followed. The skins crept 
on the ground, and the joints of meat lowed on the spits 
while roasting. 

The wind becoming fair they sailed from the island. 
They had not gone far when the weather changed, 
and a storm of thunder and lightning ensued. A stroke 
of lightning shattered their mast, which in its fall killed 
the pilot. At last the vessel itself came to pieces. The 
keel and mast floating side by side, Ulysses formed of 
them a raft, to which he clung, and, the wind changing, 
the waves bore him to Calypso's island. All the rest of 
the crew perished. 

The following allusion to the topics we have just been 
considering is from Milton's "Comus," line 252: 

"... I have often heard 
My mother Circe and the Sirens three, 
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades, 
CuUing their potent herbs and baneful drugs, 
Who as they sung would take the prisoned soul 
And lap it in Elysium. Scylla wept, 
And chid her barking waves into attention, 
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause." 

Scylla and Charybdis have become proverbial, to 
denote opposite dangers which beset one's course. See 
Proverbial Expressions. 

CALYPSO 

Calypso was a sea-nymph, which name denotes a 
numerous class of female divinities of lower rank, yet 
sharing many of the attributes of the gods. Calypso 
received Ulysses hospitably, entertained him magnifi- 
cently, became enamoured of him, and wished to retain 
him forever, conferring on him immortality. But he 
persisted in his resolution to return to his country and 
his wife and son. Calypso at last received the com- 
mand of Jove to dismiss him. Mercury brought the 



246 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

message to her, and found her in her grotto, which is 
thus described by Homer : 

"A garden vine, luxuriant on all sides, 
Mantled the spacious cavern, cluster-hung 
Profuse; four fountains of serenest lymph, 
Their sinuous course pursuing side by side, 
Strayed all around, and everywhere appeared 
Meadows of softest verdure, purpled o'er 
With violets ; it was a scene to fill 
A god from heaven with wonder and dehght." 

Calypso with much reluctance proceeded to obey the 
commands of Jupiter. She supplied Ulysses with the 
rneans of constructing a raft, provisioned it well for him, 
and gave him a favoring gale. He sped on his course 
prosperously for many days, till at length, when in 
sight of land, a storm arose that broke his mast, and 
threatened to rend the raft asunder. In this crisis he 
was seen by a compassionate sea-nymph, who in the 
form of a cormorant alighted on the raft, and presented 
him a girdle, directing him to bind it beneath his breast, 
and if he should be compelled to trust himself to the 
waves, it would buoy him up and enable him by swim- 
ming to reach the land. 

Fenelon, in his romance of "Telemachus," has given 
us the adventures of the son of Ulysses in search of his 
father. Among other places at which he arrived, fol- 
lowing on his father's footsteps, was Calypso's isle, and, 
as in the former case, the goddess tried every art to 
keep him with her, and offered to share her immortality 
with him. But Minerva, who in the shape of Mentor 
accompanied him and governed all his movements, 
made, him repel her allurements, an^a when no other 
means of escape could be found, the two friends leaped 
from a cliff into the sea, and swam to a vessel which 
lay becalmed off shore. Byron alludes to this leap of 
Telemachus and Mentor in the following stanza: 

"But not in silence pass Cab'pso's isles. 
The sister tenants of the middle deep; 
There for the weary still a haven smiles, 
Though the fair goddess long has ceased to weep, 



THE PELAGIANS 247 

And o'er her cliflfs a fruitless watch to keep 
For him who dared prefer a mortal bride. 
Here too his boy essayed the dreadful leap, 
Stern Mentor urged from high to yonder tide; 
While thus of both bereft the nymph-queen doubly sighed." 



CHAPTER XXX 

THE PH^ACIANS FATE OF THE SUITORS 

THE PH.EACIANS 

Ulysses dung to the raft while any of its timbers 
kept together, and when it no longer yielded him sup- 
port, binding the girdle around him, he swam. Min- 
erva smoothed the billows before him and sent him a 
wind that rolled the waves towards the shore. The 
surf beat high on the rocks and seemed to forbid ap- 
proach; but at length finding calm water at the mouth 
of a gentle stream, he landed, spent with toil, breathless 
and speechless and almost dead. After some time, re- 
viving, he kissed the soil, rejoicing, yet at a loss what 
course to take. At a short distance he perceived a wood, 
to which he turned his steps. There, finding a covert 
sheltered by intermingling branches alike from the sun 
and the rain, he collected a pile of leaves and formed 
a bed, on which he stretched himself, and heaping the 
leaves over him, fell asleep. 

The land where he was thrown was Scheria, the coun- 
try of the Phjeacians. These people dwelt originally 
near the Cyclopes ; but being oppressed by that savage 
race, they migrated to the isle of Scheria, under the 
conduct of Nausithous, their king. They were, the poet 
tells us, a people akin to the gods, who appeared mani- 
festly and feasted among them when they offered sac- 
rifices, and did not conceal themselves from solitary 
wayfarers when they met them. They had abundance 
of wealth and lived in the enjoyment of it undisturbed 
by the alarms of war, for as they dwelt remote from 
gain-seeking man, no enemy ever approached their 



248 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

shores, and they did not even require to make use of 
bows and quivers. Their chief employment was 
navigation. Their ships, which went with the velocity 
ijf birds, were endued with intelligence; they knew 
every port and needed no pilot. Alcinoiis, the son 
of Nausithoiis, was now their king, a wise and just 
sovereign, beloved by his people. 

Now it happened that the very night on which Ulysses 
was cast ashore on the Phseacian island, and while he 
lay sleeping on his bed of leaves, Nausicaa, the daugh- 
ter of the king, had a dream sent by Minerva, remind- 
ing her that her wedding-day was not far distant, and 
that it would be but a prudent preparation for that event 
to have a general washing of the clothes of the family. 
This was no slight affair, for the fountains were at some 
distance, and the garments must be carried thither. On 
awaking, the princess hastened to her parents to tell 
them what was on her mind; not alluding to her wed- 
ding-day, but finding other reasons equally good. Her 
father readily assented and ordered the grooms to fur- 
nish forth a wagon for the purpose. The clothes were 
put therein, and the queen mother placed in the wagon, 
likewise, an abundant supply of food and wine. The 
princess took her seat and plied the lash, her attendant 
virgins following her on foot. Arrived at the river side, 
they turned out the mules to graze, and unlading the 
carriage, bore the garments down to the water, and 
working with cheerfulness and alacrity soon despatched 
their labor. Then having spread the garments on the 
shore to dry, and having themselves bathed, they sat 
down to enjoy their meal; after which they rose and 
amused themselves with a game of ball, the princess 
singing to them while they played. But when they had 
refolded the apparel and were about to resume their 
way to the town, Minerva caused the ball thrown by 
the princess to fall into the water, whereat they all 
screamed and Ulysses awaked at the sound. 

Now we must picture to ourselves Ulysses, a ship- 
wrecked mariner, but a few hours escaped from the 
waves, and utterly destitute of clothing, awaking and 
discovering that only a few bushes were interposed be- 



THE PH^ACIANS 249 

tween him and a group of young maidens whom, by 
their deportment and attire, he discovered to be not 
mere peasant girls, but of a higher class. Sadly need- 
ing help, how could he yet venture, naked as he was, 
to discover himself and make his wants known? It 
certainly was a case worthy of the interposition of his 
patron goddess Minerva, who never failed him at a 
crisis. Breaking off a leafy branch from a tree, he held 
it before him and stepped out from the thicket. The 
virgins at sight of him fled in all directions, Nausicaa 
alone excepted, for her Minerva aided and endowed 
with courage and discernment. Ulysses, standing re- 
spectfully aloof, told his sad case, and besought the 
fair object (whether queen or goddess he professed he 
knew not) for food and clothing. The princess replied 
courteously, promising present relief and her father's 
hospitality when he should become acquainted with the 
facts. She called back her scattered maidens, chiding 
their alarm, and reminding them that the Phaeacians had 
no enemies to fear. This man, she told them, was an 
unhappy wanderer, whom it was a duty to cherish, for 
the poor and stranger are from Jove. She bade them 
bring food and clothing, for some of her brother's 
garments were among the contents of the wagon. When 
this was done, and Ulysses, retiring to a sheltered place, 
had washed his body free from the sea-foam, clothed 
and refreshed himself with food, Pallas dilated his form 
and diffused grace over his ample chest and manly 
brows. 

The princess, seeing him, was filled with admiration, 
and scrupled not to say to her damsels that she wished 
the gods would send her such a husband. To Ulysses 
she recommended that he should repair to the city, fol- 
lowing herself and train so far as the way lay through 
the fields ; but when they should approach the city she 
desired that he would no longer be seen in her com- 
pany, for she feared the remarks which rude and vulgar 
people might make on seeing her return accompanied 
by such a gallant stranger. To avoid which she directed 
him to stop at a grove adjoining the city, in which were 
a farm and garden belonging to the king. After al- 



250 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

lowing time for the princess and her companions to 
reach the city, he was then to pursue his way thither, 
and would be easily guided by any he might meet to 
the royal abode. 

Ulysses obeyed the directions and in due time pro- 
ceeded to the city, on approaching which he met a 
young woman bearing a pitcher forth for water. It 
was Minerva, who had assumed that form. Ulysses ac- 
costed her and desired to be directed to the palace of 
Alcinoiis the king. The maiden replied respectfully, 
offering to be his guide ; for the palace, she informed 
him, stood near her father's dwelling. Under the 
guidance of the goddess, and by her power enveloped 
in a cloud which shielded him from observation, Ulysses 
passed among the busy crowd, and with wonder ob- 
sei^ved their harbor, their ships, their forum (the resort 
of heroes), and their battlements, till they came to the 
palace, where the goddess, having first given him some 
information of the country, king, and people he was 
about to meet, left him. Ulysses, before entering the 
courtyard of the palace, stood and surveyed the scene. 
Its splendor astonished him. Brazen walls stretched 
from the entrance to the interior house, of which the 
doors were gold, the doorposts silver, the lintels silver 
ornamented with gold. On either side w^ere figures of 
mastiff's wrought in gold and silver, standing in rows as 
if to guard the approach. Along the walls were seats 
spread through all their length with mantles of finest 
texture, the work of Phseacian maidens. On these seats 
the princes sat and feasted, while golden statues of 
graceful youths held in their hands lie^hted torches which 
shed radiance over the scene. Full fifty female menials 
served in household offices, some emplpfyed to grind the 
corn, others to wind off the purple wool or ply the 
loom. For the Phseacian women as far exceeded all other 
women in household arts as the mariners of that coun- 
try did the rest of mankind in the management of ships. 
Without the court a spacious garden lay, four acres in 
extent. In it grew many a lofty tree, pomegranate, 
pear, apple, fig, and olive. Neither winter's cold nor 
summer's drought arrested their growth, but they flour- 



THE PFL^ACIANS 251 

ished in constant succession, some budding while others 
were maturing. The vineyard was equally prolific. In 
one quarter you might see the vines, some in blossom, 
some loaded with ripe grapes, and in another observe 
the vintagers treading the wine press. On the garden's 
borders flowers of all hues bloomed all the year round, 
arranged with neatest art. In the midst two fountains 
poured forth their waters, one flowing by artificial chan- 
nels over all the garden, the other conducted through 
the courtyard of the palace, whence every citizen might 
draw his supplies. 

Ulysses stood gazing in admiration, unobserved him- 
self, for the cloud which Minerva spread around him 
still shielded him. At length, having sufticiently ob- 
served the scene, he advanced with rapid step into the 
hall where the chiefs and senators were assembled, pour- 
ing libation to Mercury, whose worship followed the 
evening meal. Just then Minerva dissolved the cloud 
and disclosed him to the assembled chiefs. Advancing 
to the place where the queen sat, he knelt at her feet 
and implored her favor and assistance to enable him 
to return to his native country. Then withdrawing, he 
seated himself in the manner of suppliants, at the hearth 
side. 

For a time none spoke. At last an aged statesman, 
addressing the king, said, "It is not fit that a stranger 
who asks our hospitality should be kept waiting in sup- 
pliant guise, none welcoming him. Let him therefore 
be led to a seat among us and supplied with food and 
n^ine." At these words the king rising gave his hand 
to Ulysses and led him to a seat, displacing thence his 
own son to make room for the stranger. Food and 
wine were set before him and he ate and refreshed him- 
self. 

The king then dismissed his guests, notifying them 
that the next day he would call them to council to con- 
sider what had best be done for the stranger. 

When the guests had departed and Ulysses was left 
alone with the king and queen, the queen asked him 
who he was and whence he came, and (recognizing the 
clothes which he wore as those which her maidens and 



252 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

herself had made) from whom he received those gar- 
ments. He told them of his residence in Calypso's isle 
and his departure thence ; of the wreck of his raft, his 
escape by swimming, and of the relief afforded by the 
princess. The parents heard approvingly, and the king 
promised to furnish a ship in which his guest might re- 
turn to his own land. 

The next day the assembled chiefs confirmed the 
promise of the king. A bark was prepared and a crew 
of stout rowers selected, and all betook themselves to 
the palace, where a bounteous repast was provided. 
After the feast the king proposed that the young men 
should show their guest their proficiency in manly 
sports, and all went forth to the arena for games of 
running, wrestling, and other exercises. After all had 
done their best, Ulysses being challenged to show what 
he could do, at first declined, but being taunted by one 
of the youths, seized a quoit of weight far heavier than 
any of the Phseacians had thrown, and sent it farther 
than the utmost throw of theirs. All were astonished, 
and viewed their guest with greatly increased respect. 

After the games they returned to the hall, and the 
herald led in Demodocus, the blind bard, 

". . . Dear to the Muse, 
Who yet appointed him both good and ill, 
Took from him sight, but gave him strains divine." 

He took for his theme the "Wooden Horse," by means 
of which the Greeks found entrance into Troy. Apollo 
inspired him, and he sang so feelingly the terrors and 
the exploits of that eventful time that all were de- 
lighted, but Ulysses was moved to tears. Observing 
which, AlcinoiJs, when the song was d<5ne, demanded of 
him why at the mention of Troy his sorrows awaked. 
Had he lost there a father, or brother, or any dear 
friend? Ulysses replied by announcing himself by his 
true name, and at their request, recounted the adven- 
tures which had befallen him since his departure from 
Troy. This narrative raised the sympathy and admira- 
tion of the Phseacians for their guest to the highest 
pitch. The king proposed that all the chiefs should 



THE PH^ACIANS 253 

present him with a gift, himself setting the example. 
They obeyed, and vied with one another in loading the 
illustrious stranger with costly gifts. 

The next day Ulysses set sail in the Phseacian ves- 
sel, and in a short time arrived safe at Ithaca, his own 
island. When the vessel touched the strand he was 
asleep. The mariners, without waking him, carried 
him on shore, and landed with him the chest containing 
his presents, and then sailed away. 

Neptune was so displeased at the conduct of the 
Phseacians in thus rescuing Ulysses from his hands that 
on the return of the vessel to port he transformed it into 
a rock, right opposite the mouth of the harbor. 

Homer's description of the ships of the Phseacians 
has been thought to look like an anticipation of the 
wonders of modern steam navigation. Alcinoiis says to 
Ulysses : 

"Say from what city, from what regions tossed, 
And what inhabitants those regions boast? 
So shalt thou quickly reach the realm assigned, 
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind; 
No helm secures their course, no pilot guides; 
Like man intelligent they plough the tides, 
Conscious of every coast and every bay 
That lies beneath the sun's all-seeing ray." 

Odyssey, Book VIII. 

Lord Carlisle, in his "Diary in the Turkish and Greek 
Waters," thus speaks of Corfu, which he considers to 
be the ancient Phseacian island : 

"The sites explain the 'Odyssey.' The temple of the 
sea-god could not have been more fitly placed, upon a 
grassy platform of the most elastic turf, on the brow 
of a crag commanding harbor, and channel, and ocean. 
Just at the entrance of the inner harbor there is a pic- 
turesque rock with a small convent perched upon it. 
which by one legend is the transformed pinnace of 
Ulysses. 

"Almost the only river in the island is just at the 
proper distance from the probable site of the city and 
palace of the king, to justify the princess Nausicaa 



254 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

having had resort to her chariot and to luncheon when 
she went with the maidens of the court to wash their 
garments." 

FATE OF THE SUITORS 

Ulysses had now been away from Ithaca for twenty 
years, and when he awoke he did not recognize his na- 
tive land. Minerva appeared to him in the form of a 
young shepherd, informed him where he was, and told 
him the state of things at his palace. More than a hun- 
dred nobles of Ithaca and of the neighboring islands 
had been for years suing for the hand of Penelope, his 
wife, imagining him dead, and lording it over his palace 
and people, as if they were owners of both. That he 
might be able to take vengeance upon them, it was im- 
portant that he should not be recognized. Minerva ac- 
cordingly metamorphosed him into an unsig^htly beggar, 
and as such he was kindly received by Eumseus, the 
swine-herd, a faithful serv^ant of his house. 

Telemachus, his son. was absent in quest of his father. 
He had gone to the courts of the other kingsT who had 
returned from the Trojan expedition. While on the 
search, he received counsel from Minerva to return 
home. He arrived and sought Eum?eus to learn some- 
thing of the state of affairs at the palace before present- 
ing himself among the suitors. Finding a stranger with 
Eumseus, he treated him courteously, though in the garb 
of a beggar, and promised him assistance. Eumseus was 
sent to the palace to inform Penelope privately of her 
son's arrival, for caution was necessary with regard to 
the suitors, who, as Telemachus had learned, were plot- 
ting to intercept and kill him. When Eumseus was gone, 
Minerva presented herself to Ulysses/ and directed him 
to make himself known to his son. . At the same time 
she touched him, removed at once from him the ap- 
pearance of age and penury, and gave him the aspect of 
vigorous manhood that belonged to him. Telemachus 
A'iewed him with astonishment, and at first thought he 
must be more than mortal. But Ulysses announced him- 
self as his father, and accounted for the change of ap- 
pearance by explaining that it was Minerva's doing. 



FATE OF THE SUITORS 255 

". . . Then threw Telemachns 
His arms around his father's neck and wept. 
Desire intense of lamentation seized 
On both; soft murmurs uttering, each indulged 
His grief." 

The father and son took counsel together how they 
should get the better of the suitors and punish them for 
their outrages. It was arranged that Telemachus should 
proceed to the palace and mingle with the suitors as 
formerly; that Ulysses should also go as a beggar, a 
character which in the rude old times had different privi- 
leges from what we concede to it now. As traveller 
and storyteller, the beggar was admitted in the halls of 
chieftains, and often treated like a guest ; though some- 
times, also, no doubt, with contumely. Ulysses charged 
his son not to betray, by any display of unusual interest 
in him, that he knew him to be other than he seemed, 
and even if he saw him insulted, or beaten, not to in- 
terpose otherwise than he might do for any stranger. 
At the palace they found the usual scene of feasting and 
riot going on. The suitors pretended to receive Telem- 
achus with joy at his rccurn, though secretly mortified 
at the failure of their plots to take his life. The old 
beggar was permitted to enter, and provided with a 
portion from the table. A touching incident occurred as 
Ulysses entered the courtyard of the palace. An old 
dog lay in the yard almost dead with age, and seeing a 
stranger enter, raised his head, with ears erect. It was 
Argus, Ulysses' own dog, that he had in other days often 
led to the chase. 

". . . Soon as he perceived 
Long-lost Ulysses nig:h, down fell his ears 
Clapped close, and with his tail glad sign he gave 
Of gratulation. impotent to rise, 
And to approach his inaster as of old. 
Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear 
Unmarked. 

. . . Then his destiny released 
Old Argxis, soon as he had lived to see 
Ulysses in the twentieth year restored." 

As Ulysses sat eating his portion in the hall, the 



256 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

suitors began to exhibit their insolence to him. When 
he mildly remonstrated, one of them raised a stool and 
with it gave him a blow. Telemachus had hard work 
to restrain his indignation at seeing his father so treated 
in his own hall, but remembering his father's injunctions, 
said no more than what became him as master of the 
house, though young, and protector of his guests. 

Penelope had protracted her decision in favor of 
either of her suitors so long that there seemed to be 
no further pretence for delay. The continued absence 
of her husband seemed to prove that his return was no 
longer to be expected. Meanwhile her son had grown 
up, and was able to manage his own affairs. She there- 
fore consented to submit the question of her choice to 
a trial of skill among the suitors. The test selected 
was shooting with the bow. Twelve rings were ar- 
ranged in a line, and he whose arrow was sent through 
the whole twelve was to have the queen for his prize. 
A bow that one of his brother heroes had given to 
Ulysses in former times was brought from the armory, 
and with its quiver full of arrows was laid in the hall. 
Telemachus had taken care that all other weapons should 
be removed, under pretence that in the heat of compe- 
tition there was danger, in some rash moment, of put- 
ting them to an improper use. 

All things being prepared for the trial, the first thing 
to be done was to bend the bow in order to attach the 
string. Telemachus endeavored to do it, but found all 
his efforts fruitless ; and modestly confessing that he 
had attempted a task beyond his strength, he yielded the 
bow to another. He tried it with no better success, and, 
amidst the laughter and jeers of his companions, gave it 
up. Another tried it and another; they rubbed the bow 
with tallow, but all to no purpose; it would not bend. 
Then spoke Ulysses, humbly suggesting that he should 
be permitted to try; for, said he, "beggar as I am, I 
was once a soldier, and there is still some strength in 
these old limbs of mine." The suitors hooted with de- 
rision, and commanded to turn him out of the hall for 
his insolence. But Telemachus spoke up for him, and, 
merely to gratify the old man, bade him try. Ulysses 



FATE OF THE SUITORS 257 

took the bow, and handled it with the hand of a master. 
With ease he adjusted the cord to its notch, then fitting 
an arrow to the bow he drew the string and sped the 
arrow unerring through the rings. 

Without allowing them time to express their aston- 
ishment, he said, "Now for another mark!" and aimed 
direct at the most insolent one of the suitors. The 
arrow pierced through his throat and he fell dead. 
Telemachus, Eumseus, and another faithful follower, 
well armed, now sprang to the side of Ulysses. The 
suitors, in amazement, looked round for arms, but found 
none, neither was there any way of escape, for Eumaeus 
had secured the door. Ulysses left them not long in 
uncertainty; he announced himself as the long-lost chief, 
whose house they had invaded, whose substance they 
had squandered, whose wife and son they had perse- 
cuted for ten long years; and told them he meant to 
have ample vengeance. All were slain, and Ulysses was 
left master of his palace and possessor of his kingdom 
and his wife. 

Tennyson's poem of "Ulysses" represents the old 
hero, after his dangers past and nothing left but to stay 
at home and be happy, growing tired of inaction and 
resolving to set forth again in quest of new adventures: 

". . . Come, my friends. 
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
The sounding furrows ; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down; 
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, 
And see the great Achilles whom we knew ;" etc. 



258 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



CHAPTER XXXI 

ADVENTURES OF ^NEAS THE HARPIES ^DIDO 

PALINURUS 

ADVENTURES OF ^NEAS 

We have followed one of the Grecian heroes, Ulysses, 
in his wanderings on his return home from Troy, and 
now we propose to share the fortunes of the remnant 
of the conquered people, under their chief ^neas, in 
their search for a new home, after the ruin of their na- 
tive city. On that fatal night when the wooden horse 
disgorged its contents of armed men, and the capture 
and conflagration of the city were the result, ^neas 
made his escape from the scene of destruction, with 
his father, and his wife, and young son. The father, 
Anchises, was too old to walk with the speed required, 
and ^neas took him upon his shoulders. Thus bur- 
dened, leading his son and followed by his wife, he 
made the best of his way out of the burning city; but, 
in the confusion, his wife was swept away and lost. 

On arriving at the place of rendezvous, numerous 
fugitives, of both sexes, were found, who put them- 
selves under the guidance of yEneas. Some months 
were spent in preparation, and at length they 'imbarked. 
They first landed on the neighboring shores of Thrace, 
and were preparing to build a city, but ^neas was 
deterred by a prodigy. Preparing to offer sacrifice, he 
tore some twigs from one of the bushes. To his dis- 
may the wounded part dropped bloof^d. When he re- 
peated the act a voice from the ground cried out to 
him, "Spare me, ^neas ; I am your kinsman, Polydore, 
here murdered with many arrows, from which a bush 
has grown, nourished with my blood." These words 
recalled to the recollection of ^Eneas that Polydore was 
a young prince of Troy, whom his father had sent with 
ample treasures to the neighboring land of Thrace, to 
be there brought up, at a distance from the horrors of 
war. The king to whom he was sent had murdered 



ADVENTURES OF ^NEAS 259 

him and seized his treasures, ^neas and his compan- 
ions, considering the land accursed by the stain of such 
a crime, hastened away. ' 

They next landed on the island of Delos, which was 
once a floating island, till Jupiter fastened it by adaman- 
tine chains to the bottom of the sea. Apollo and Diana 
were born there, and the island was sacred to Apollo. 
Here ^neas consulted the oracle of Apollo, and re- 
ceived an answer, ambiguous as usual, "Seek your an- 
cient mother; there the race of ^neas shall dwell, and 
reduce all other nations to their sway." The Trojans 
heard with joy and immediately began to ask one an- 
other, "Where is the spot intended by the oracle?" 
Anchises remembered that there was a tradition that 
their forefathers came from Crete and thither they re- 
solved to steer. They arrived at Crete and began to 
build their city, but sickness broke out among them, 
and the fields that they had planted failed to yield a 
crop. In this gloomy aspect of affairs yEneas was 
warned in a dream to leave the country and seek a 
western land, called Hesperia, whence Dardanus, the 
true founder of the Trojan race, had originally mi- 
grated. To Hesperia, now called Italy, therefore, they 
directed their future course, and not till after many 
adventures and the lapse of time sufficient to carry a 
modern navigator several times round the world, did 
they arrive there. 

Their first landing was at the island of the Harpies. 
These were disgusting birds with the heads of maidens, 
with long claws and faces pale with hunger. They were 
sent by the gods to torment a certain Phineus, whom 
Jupiter had deprived of his sight, in punishment of his 
cruelty; and whenever, a meal was placed before him 
the Harpies darted down from the air and carried it 
off. They were driven away from Phineus by the 
heroes of the Argonautic expedition, and took refuge 
in the island where ^neas now found them. 

When they entered the port the Trojans saw herds 
of cattle roaming over the plain. They slew as many 
as they wished and prepared for a feast. Rut no sooner 
had they seated themselves at the table than a horrible 



260 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

clamor was heard in the air, and a flock of these odious 
harpies came rushing down upon them, seizing in their 
talons the meat from the dishes and flying away with 
it. yEneas and his companions drew their swords and 
dealt vigorous blows among the monsters, but to no pur- 
pose, for they were so nimble it was almost impossible 
to hit them, and their feathers were like armor im- 
penetrable to steel. One of them, perched on a neigh- 
boring cliff, screamed out, "Is it thus, Trojans, you treat 
us innocent birds, first slaughter our cattle and then 
make war on ourselves?" She then predicted dire suf- 
ferings to them in their future course, and having vented 
her wrath flew away. The Trojans made haste to leave 
the country, and next found themselves coasting along 
the shore of Epirus. Here they landed, and to their 
astonishment learned that certain Trojan exiles, who 
had been carried there as prisoners, had become rulers 
of the country. Andromache, the widow of Hector, be- 
came the wife of one of the victorious Grecian chiefs, 
to whom she bore a son. Her husband dying, she was 
left regent of the country, as guardian of her son, and 
had married a fellow-captive, Helenus, of the royal race 
of Troy. Helenus and Andromache treated the exiles 
with the utmost hospitality, and dismissed them loaded 
with gifts. 

From hence ^neas coasted along the shore of Sicily 
and passed the country of the Cyclopes. Here they 
were hailed from the shore by a miserable object, whom 
by his garments, tattered as they were, they perceived 
to be a Greek. He told them he was one of Ulysses's 
companions, left behind by that chief in his hurried 
departure. He related the story of Ulysses's adventure 
with Polyphemus, and besought them to take him off 
with them as he had no means of sustaining his ex- 
istence where he was but wild berries and roots, and 
lived in constant fear of the Cyclopes. While he spoke 
Polyphemus made his appearance; a terrible monster, 
shapeless, vast, whose only eye had been put out.^ He 
walked with cautious steps, feeling his way with a staff, 
down to the sea-side, to wash his eye-socket in the 

* See Proverbial Expression". 



ADVENTURES OF .ENEAS 261 

waves. When he reached the water, he waded out 
towards them, and his immense height enabled him to 
advance far into the sea, so that the Trojans, in terror, 
took to their oars to get out of his way. Hearing the 
oars, Polyphemus shouted after them, so that the shores 
resounded, and at the noise the other Cyclopes came 
forth from their caves and woods and lined the shore, 
like a row of lofty pine trees. The Trojans plied their 
oars and soon left them out of sight. 

^neas had been cautioned by Helenus to avoid the 
strait guarded by the monsters Scylla and Charybdis. 
There Ulysses, the reader will remember, had lost six 
of his men, seized by Scylla while the navigators were 
wholly intent upon avoiding Charybdis. ^neas, fol- 
lowing the advice of Helenus, shunned the dangerous 
pass and coasted along the island of Sicily. 

Juno, seeing the Trojans speeding their way prosper- 
ously towards their destined shore, felt her old grudge 
against them revive, for she could not forget the slight 
that Paris had put upon her, in awarding Ihe prize of 
beauty to another. In heavenly minds can such resent- 
ments dwell !^ Accordingly she hastened to ^olus, the 
ruler of the winds, the same who supplied Ulysses 
with favoring gales, giving him the contrary ones tied 
up in a bag. ^olus obeyed the goddess and sent forth 
his sons, Boreas, Typhon, and the other winds, to toss 
the ocean. A terrible storm ensued and the Trojan ships 
were driven out of their course towards the coast of 
Africa. They were in imminent danger of being 
wrecked, and were separated, so that ^neas thought 
that all were lost except his own. I 

At this crisis, Neptune, hearing the storm raging, and 
knowing that he had given no orders for one, raised his 
head above the waves, and saw the fleet of ^neas driv- 
ing before the gale. Knowing the hostility of Juno, he 
was at no loss to account for it, but his anger was not 
the less at this interference in his province. He called 
the winds and dismissed them with a severe reprimand. 
He then soothed the waves, and brushed away the clouds 
from before the face of the sun. Some of the ships 

^ See Proverbial Expressions. 



262 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

which had got on the rocks he pried off with his own 
trident, while Triton and a sea-nymph, putting their 
shoulders under others, set them afloat again. The Tro- 
jans, when the sea became calm, sought the nearest 
shore, which was the coast of Carthage, where ^neas 
was so happy as to find that one by one the ships all 
arrived safe, though badly shaken. 

Waller, in his "Panegyric to the Lord Protector" 
(Cromwell), alludes to this stilling o^ the storm by 
Neptune : 

"Above the waves, as Neptune showed his face, 
To chide the winds and save the Trojan race, 
So has your Highness, raised above the rest, 
Storms of ambition tossing us repressed." 



DIDO 

Carthage, where the exiles had now arrived, was a 
spot on the coast of Africa opposite Sicily, where at 
that time a Tyrian colony under Dido, their queen, were 
laying the foundations of a state destined in later ages 
to be the rival of Rome itself. Dido was the daughter 
of Belus, king of Tyre, and sister of Pygmalion, who 
succeeded his father on the throne. Her husband was 
Sichaeus, a man of immense wealth, but Pygmalion, 
who coveted his treasures, caused him to be put to death. 
Dido, with a numerous body of friends and followers, 
both men and women, succeeded in effecting their escape 
from Tyre, in several vessels, carrying with them the 
treasures of Sichseus. On arriving at the spot which they 
selected as the seat of their future home, they asked of 
the natives only so much land as they could enclose with 
a bull's hide. When this was readily granted, she caused 
the hide to be cut iiito strips, and with them enclosed a 
spot on which she built a citadel, and called it Byrsa (a 
hide). Around this fort the city of Carthage rose, and 
soon became a powerful and flourishing place. 

Such was the state of affairs when ^neas with his 
Trojans arrived there. Dido received the illustrious 
exiles with friendliness and hospitality. "Not unac- 



DIDO 263 

quainted with distress," she said, "I have learned to 
succor the unfortunate."^ The queen's hospitality dis- 
played itself in festivities at which games of strength 
and skill were exhibited. The strangers contended for 
the palm with her own subjects, on equal terms, the 
queen declaring that whether the victor were "Trojan or 
Tyrian should make no difference to her."^ At the feast 
which followed the games, ^neas gave at her request 
a recital of the closing events of the Trojan history and 
his own adventures after the fall of the city. Dido was 
charmed with his discourse and filled with admiration 
of his exploits. She conceived an ardent passion for 
him, and he for his part seemed well content to accept 
the fortunate chance which appeared to offer him at 
once a happy termination of his wanderings, a home, a 
kingdom, and a bride. Months rolled away in the en- 
joyment of pleasant intercourse, and it seemed as if 
Italy and the empire destined to be founded on its shores 
were alike forgotten. Seeing which, Jupiter despatched 
Mercury with a message to ^neas recalling him to a 
sense of his high destiny, and commanding him to re- 
sume his voyage. 

^neas parted from Dido, though she tried every al- 
lurement and persuasion to detain him. The blow to 
her affection and her pride was too much for her to 
endure, and when she found that he was gone, she 
mounted a funeral pile which she had caused to be 
erected, and having stabbed herself was consumed with 
the pile. The flames rising over the city were seen by 
the departing Trojans, and, though the cause was un- 
known, gave to .^neas some intimation of the fatal 
event. 

The following epigram we find in "Elegant Ex- 
tracts" : 

From the Latin 

"Unhappy, Dido, was thy fate 
In first and second married state! 
One husband caused thy flip:ht by dying, 
Thy death the other caused by flying." 

' See Proverbial Expressions. 



264 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



PALINURUS 

After touching at the island of Sicily, where Acestes, 
a prince of Trojan lineage, bore sway, who gave them 
a hospitable reception, the Trojans reembarked, and 
held on their course for Italy. Venus now interceded 
with Neptune to allow her son at last to attain the 
wished-for goal and find an end of his perils on the 
deep. Neptune consented, stipulating only for one life 
as a ransom for the rest. The victim was Palinurus, 
the pilot. As he sat watching the stars, with his hand 
on the helm, Somnus sent by Neptune approached in 
the guise of Phorbas and said: "Palinurus, the breeze 
is fair, the water smooth, and the ship sails steadily on 
her course. Lie down awhile and take needful rest. 
I will stand at the helm in your place." Palinurus re- 
plied, "Tell me not of smooth seas or favoring winds, 
me who have seen so much of their treachery. Shall 
I trust .(Eneas to the chances of the weather and the 
winds?" And he continued to grasp the helm and to 
keep his eyes fixed on the stars. But Somnus waved 
over him a branch moistened wtih Lethaean dew, and 
his eyes closed in spite of all his efforts. Then Somnus 
pushed him overboard and he fell ; but keeping his hold 
upon the helm, it came away with him. Neptune was 
mindful of his promise and kept the ship on her track 
without helm or pilot, till ^neas discovered his loss, 
and, sorrowing deeply for his faithful steersman, took 
charge of the ship himself. 

There is a beautiful allusion to the story of Palinurus 
in Scott's "Marmion," Introduction t6 Canto I., where 
the poet, speaking of the recent death of William Pitt, 
says: 

"O, think how, to his latest day. 
When death just hovering claimed his prey, 
With Palinure's unaltered mood. 
Firm at his dangerous post he stood; 
Each call for needful rest repelled. 
With dying hand the rudder held. 
Till in his fall, with fateful sway, 
The steerage of the realm gave way." 



PALINURUS 265 

The ships at last reached the shores of Italy, and joy- 
fully did the adventurers leap to land. While his people 
were employed in making their encampment ^neas 
sought the abode of the Sibyl. It was a cave connected 
with a temple and grove, sacred to Apollo and Diana. 
While /Eneas contemplated the scene, the Sibyl accosted 
him. She seemed to know his errand, and under the 
influence of the deity of the place, burst forth in a pro- 
phetic strain, giving dark intimations of labors and perils 
through which he was destined to make his way to 
final success. She closed with the encouraging words 
which have become proverbial : "Yield not to disasters, 
but press onward the more bravely."^ yEneas replied 
that he had prepared himself for whatever might await 
him. He had but one request to make. Having been 
directed in a dream to seek the abode of the dead in 
order to confer with his father, Anchises, to receive 
from him a revelation of his future fortunes and those 
of his race, he asked her assistance to enable him to ac- 
complish the task. The Sibyl replied, "The descent to 
Avernus is easy: the gate of Pluto stands open night 
and day; but to retrace one's steps and return to the 
upper air, that is the toil, that the difficulty."^ _ She in- 
structed him to seek in the forest a tree on which grew 
a golden branch. This branch was to be plucked ofiE 
and borne as a gift to Proserpine, and if fate was pro- 
pitious it would yield to the hand and quit its parent 
trunk, but otherwise no force could rend it away. If 
torn away, another would succeed.^ 

^neas followed the directions of the Sibyl. His 
mother, Venus, sent two of her doves to fly before him 
and show him the way, and by their assistance he found 
the tree, plucked the branch, and hastened back with it 
to the Sibyl. 

* See Proverbial Expressions. 



266 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 
CHAPTER XXXH 

THE INFERNAL REGIONS THE SIBYL 

THE INFERNAL REGIONS 

As at the commencement of our series we have given 
the pagan account of the creation of the world, so as 
we approach its conclusion we present a view of the 
regions of the dead, depicted by one of their most en- 
lightened poets, who drew his doctrines from their most 
esteemed philosophers. The region vvhere Virgil locates 
the entrance to this abode is perhaps the most strikingly 
adapted to excite ideas of the terrific and preternatural 
of any on the face of the earth. It is the volcanic 
region near Vesuvius, where the whole country is cleft 
with chasms, from which sulphurous flames arise, while 
the ground is shaken with pent-up vapors, and mysteri- 
ous sounds issue from the bowels of the earth. The 
lake Avernus is supposed to fill the crater of an ex- 
tinct volcano. It is circular, half a mile wide, and very 
deep, surrounded by high banks, which in Virgil's time 
were covered with a gloomy forest. Mephitic vapors 
rise from its waters, so that no life is found on its banks, 
and no birds fly over it. Here, according to the poet, 
was the cave which afi^orded access to the infernal re- 
gions, and here yEneas oft"ered sacrifices to the infernal 
deities, Proserpine, Hecate, and the Furies. Then a 
roaring was heard in the earth, the woods on the hill- 
tops were shaken, and the howling of dogs announced 
the approach of the deities. "Now," said the Sibyl, 
"summon up your courage, for youXvill need it." She 
descended into the cave, and ^neas followed. Before 
the threshold of hell they passed through a group of 
beings who are enumerated as Griefs and avenging 
Cares, pale Diseases and melancholy Age, Fear and 
Hunger that tempt to crime. Toil, Poverty, and Death, 
forms horrible to view. The Furies spread their couches 
there, and Discord, whose hair was of vipers tied up 
with a bloody fillet. Here also were the monsters, 



THE INFERNAL REGIONS 267 

Briareus, with his hundred arms, Hydras hissing, and 
Chimseras breathing fire. yEneas shuddered at the sight, 
drew his sword and would have struck, but the Sibyl 
restrained him. They then came to the black river 
Cocytus, where they found the ferryman, Charon, old 
and squalid, but strong and vigorous, who was receiving 
passengers of all kinds into his boat, magnanimous 
heroes, boys and unmarried girls, as numerous as the 
leaves that fall at autumn, or the flocks that fly south- 
ward at the approach of winter.. They stood pressing 
for a passage and longing to touch the opposite shore. 
But the stern ferryman took in only such as he chose, 
driving the rest back, ^neas, wondering at the sight, 
asked the Sibyl, "Why this discrimination?" She an- 
swered, "Those who are taken on board the bark are the 
souls of those who have received due burial rites ; the 
host of others who have remained unburied are not 
permitted to pass the flood, but wander a hundred years, 
and flit to and fro about the shore, till at last they are 
taken over." yEneas grieved at recollecting some of 
his own companions who had perished in the storm. At 
that moment he beheld Palinurus, his pilot, who fell 
overboard and was drowned. He addressed him and 
asked him the cause of his misfortune. Palinurus re- 
plied that the rudder was carried away, and he, clinging 
to it, was swept away with it. He besought yEneas 
most urgently to extend to him his hand and take him 
in company to the opposite shore. But the Sibyl re- 
buked him for the wish thus to transgress the laws of 
Pluto; but consoled him by informing him that the peo- 
ple of the shore where his body had been wafted by 
the waves should be stirred up by prodigies to give it 
due burial, and that the promontory should bear the 
name of Cape Palinurus, which it does to this day. 
Leaving Palinurus consoled by these words, they ap- 
proached the boat. Charon, fixing his eyes sternly upon 
the advancing warrior, demanded by what right he, liv- 
ing and armed, approached that shore. To which the 
Sibyl replied that they would commit no violence, that 
^neas's only object was to see his father, and finally 
exhibited the golden branch, at sight of which Charon's 



268 



STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



wrath relaxed, and he made haste to turn his bark to 
the shore, and receive them on board. The boat, 
adapted only to the light freight of bodiless spirits, 
groaned under the weight of the hero. They were soon 
conveyed to the opposite shore. There they were en- 
countered by the three-headed dog, Cerberus, with his 
necks bristling with snakes. He barked with all his 
three throats till the Sibyl threw him a medicated cake 
which he eagerly devoured, and then stretched himself 
out in his den and fell asleep, ^neas and the Sibyl 
sprang to land. The first sound that struck their ears 
was the wailing of young children, who had died on the 
threshold of life, and near to these were they who had 
perished under false charges. Minos presides over them 
as judge, and examines the deeds of each. The next 
class was of those who had died by their own hand, hat- 
ing life and seeking refuge in death. O how willingly 
would they now endure poverty, labor, and any other 
infliction, if they might but return to life ! Next were 
situated the regions of sadness, divided off into retired 
paths, leading through groves of myrtle. Here roamed 
those who had fallen victims to unrequited love, not 
freed from pain even by death itself. Among these, 
^neas thought he descried the form of Dido, with 
a wound still recent. In the dim light he was for a mo- 
ment uncertain, but approaching, perceived it was indeed 
herself. Tears fell from his eyes, and he addressed her 
in the accents of love. "Unhappy Dido ! was then the 
rumor true that you had perished? and was I, alas! the 
cause ? I call the gods to witness that my departure 
from you was reluctant, and in obedience to the com- 
mands of Jove; nor could I believ^ that my absence 
would cost you so dear. Stop, I beseech you, and refuse 
me not a last farewell." She stood for a moment with 
averted countenance, and eyes fixed on the ground, and 
then silently passed on, as insensible to his pleadings as 
a rock. yEneas followed for some distance; then, with 
a heavy heart, rejoined his companion and resumed his 
route. 

They next entered the fields where roam the heroes 
who have fallen in battle. Here they saw many shades 



THE INFERNAL REGIONS 269 

of Grecian and Trojan warriors. The Trojans thronged 
around him, and could not be satisfied with the sight. 
They asked the cause of his coming, and plied him with 
innumerable questions. But the Greeks, at the sight of 
his armor glittering through the murky atmosphere, rec- 
ognized the hero, and filled with terror turned their 
backs and fled, as they used to do on the plains of Troy, 
^neas would have lingered long with his Trojan 
friends, but the Sibyl hurried him away. They next 
came to a place where the road divided, the one leading 
to Elysium, the other to the regions of the condemned. 
./Eneas beheld on one side the walls of a mighty city, 
around which Phlegethon rolled its fiery waters. Be- 
fore him was the gate of adamant that neither gods nor 
men can break through. An iron tower stood by the 
gate, on which Tisiphone, the avenging Fury,* kept 
guard. From the city were heard groans, and the sound 
of the scourge, the creaking of iron, and the clanking 
of chains, ^neas, horror-struck, inquired of his guide 
what crimes were those whose punishments produced 
the sounds he heard? The Sibyl answered, ''Here is the 
judgment hall of Rhadamanthus, who brings to light 
crimes done in life, which the perpetrator vainly thought 
impenetrably hid. Tisiphone applies her whip of scor- 
pions, and delivers the offender over to her sister 
Furies." At this moment with horrid clang the brazen 
gates unfolded, and ^neas saw within a Hydra with 
fifty heads guarding the entrance. The Sibyl told him 
that the gulf of Tartarus descended deep, so that its 
recesses were as far beneath their feet as heaven was 
high above their heads. In the bottom of this pit, the 
Titan race, who warred against the gods, lie prostrate ; 
Salmoneus, also, who presumed to vie with Jupiter, and 
built a bridge of brass over which he drove his chariot 
that the sound might resemble thunder, launching flam- 
ing brands at his people in imitation of lightning, till 
Jupiter struck him with a real thunderbolt, and taught 
him the difference between mortal weapons and divine. 
Here, also, is Tityus, the giant, whose form is so im- 
mense that as he lies he stretches over nine acres, while 
a vulture preys upon his liver, which as fast as it is 



270 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

devoured grows again, so that his punishment will have 
no end. 

iEneas saw groups seated at tables loaded with dain- 
ties, while near by stood a Fury who snatched away the 
viands from their lips as fast as they prepared to taste 
them. Others beheld suspended over their heads huge 
rocks, threatening to fall, keeping them in a state of 
constant alarm. These were they who had hated their 
brothers, or struck their parents, or defrauded the 
friends who trusted them, or who, having grown rich, 
kept their money to themselves, and gave no share to 
others ; the last being the most numerous class. Here 
also were those who had violated the marriage vow, or 
fought in a bad cause, or failed in fidelity to their em- 
ployers. Here was one who had sold his country for 
gold, another who perverted the laws, making them say 
one thing to-day and another to-morrow. 

Ixion was there, fastened to the circumference of a 
wheel ceaselessly revolving; and Sisyphus, whose task 
was to roll a huge stone up to a hill-top, but when the 
steep was well-nigh gained, the rock, repulsed by some 
sudden force, rushed again headlong down to the plain. 
Again he toiled at it, while the sweat bathed all his 
weary limbs, but all to no effect. There was Tantalus, 
who stood in a pool, his chin level with the water, yet 
he was parched with thirst, and found nothing to as- 
suage it ; for when he bowed his hoary head, eager to 
quaff, the water fled away, leaving the ground at his 
feet all dry. Tall trees laden with fruit stooped their 
heads to him, pears, pomegranates, apples, and luscious 
figs; but when with a sudden grasp he tried to seize 
them winds whirled them high above his reach. 

The Sibyl now warned yEneas that it was time to 
turn from these melancholy regions and seek the city of 
the blessed. They passed through a middle tract of 
darkness, and came upon the Elysian fields, the groves 
where the happy reside. They breathed a freer air, 
and saw all objects clothed in a purple light. The re- 
gion has a sun and stars of its own. The inhabitants 
were enjoying themselves in various ways, some in 
sports on the grassy turf, in games of strength or skill. 



THE INFERNAL REGIONS 271 

others dancing or singing. Orpheus struck the chords 
of his lyre, and called forth ravishing sounds. Here 
/Eneas saw the founders of the Trojan state, magnani- 
mous heroes who lived in happier times. He gazed 
with admiration on the war chariots and glittering arms 
now reposing in disuse. Spears stood fixed in the 
ground, and the horses, unharnessed, roamed over the 
plain. The same pride in splendid armor and generous 
steeds which the old heroes felt in life, accompanied 
them here. He saw another group feasting and listen- 
ing to the strains of music. They were in a laurel grove, 
whence the great river Po has its origin, and flows out 
among men. Here dwelt those who fell by wounds re- 
ceived in their country's cause, holy priests also, and 
poets who have uttered thoughts worthy of Apollo, and 
others who have contributed to cheer and adorn life by 
their discoveries in the useful arts, and have made their 
memory blessed by rendering service to mankind. They 
wore snow-white fillets about their brows. The Sibyl 
addressed a group of these, and inquired where Anchises 
was to be found. They were directed where to seek 
him, and soon found him in a verdant valley, where he 
was contemplating the ranks of his posterity, their des- 
tinies and worthy deeds to be achieved in coming times. 
When he recognized ^neas approaching, he stretched 
out both hands to him, while tears flowed freely. "Have 
you come at last," said he, "long expected, and do I be- 
hold you after such perils past? O my son, how have 
I trembled for you as I have watched your career !" 
To which ^neas replied, "O father! your image was 
always before me to guide and guard me." Then he 
endeavored to enfold his father in his embrace, but his 
arms enclosed only an unsubstantial image. 

^neas perceived before him a spacious valley, with 
trees gently waving to the wind, a tranquil landscape, 
through which the river Lethe flowed. Along the 
banks of the stream wandered a countless multitude, 
numerous as insects in the summer air. ^neas, with 
surprise, inquired who were these. Anchises answered, 
"They are souls to which bodies are to be given in due 
time. Meanwhile they dwell on Lethe's bank, and drink 



272 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

oblivion of their former lives." "O father!" said 
JEnesLS, "is it possible that any can be so in love with 
life as to wish to leave these tranquil seats for the 
upper world?" Anchises replied by explaining the plan 
of creation. The Creator, he told him, originally made 
the material of which souls are composed of the four 
elements, fire, air, earth, and water, all which when 
united took the form of the most excellent part, fire, and 
became flame. This material was scattered like seed 
among the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon, and stars. 
Of this seed the inferior gods created man and all other 
animals, mingling it with various proportions of earth, 
by which its purity was alloyed and reduced. Thus, the 
more earth predominates in the composition the less pure 
is the individual ; and we see men and women with 
their full-grown bodies have not the purity of child- 
hood. So in proportion to the time which the union of 
body and soul has lasted is the impurity contracted by 
the spiritual part. This impurity must be purged away 
after death, which is done by ventilating the souls in 
the current of winds, or merging them in water, or 
burning out their impurities by fire. Some few, of whom 
Anchises intimates that he is one, are admitted at once 
to Elysium, there to remain. But the rest, after the 
impurities of earth are purged away, are sent back to 
life endowed with new bodies, having had the remem- 
brance of their former lives effectually washed away by 
the waters of Lethe. Some, however, there still are, so 
thoroughly corrupted, that they are not fit to be in- 
trusted with human bodies, and these are made into 
brute animals, lions, tigers, cats, dogs, monkeys, etc. 
This is what the ancients called Metempsychosis, or the 
transmigration of souls ; a doctrine which is still held by 
the natives of India, who scruple to destroy the life even 
of the most insignificant animal, not knowing but it may 
be one of their relations in an altered form. 

Anchises, having explained so much, proceeded to 
point out to ^neas individuals of his race, who were 
hereafter to be born, and to relate to him the exploits 
they should perform in the world. After this he re- 
verted to the present, and told his son of the events that 




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THE CUMEAN SIBYL. 
From painting by Michael Angelo. Sistine Chapel. 



ELYSIUM 273 

remained to him to be accomplished before the complete 
establishment of himself and his followers in Italy. 
Wars were to be waged, battles fought, a bride to be 
won, and in the result a Trojan state founded, from 
which should rise the Roman power, to be in time the 
sovereign of the world. 

^neas and the Sibyl then took leave of Anchises, and 
returned by some short cut, which the poet does not 
explain, to the upper world. 

ELYSIUM 

Virgil, we have seen, places his Elysium under the 
earth, and assigns it for a residence to the spirits of 
the blessed. But in Homer Elysium forms no part of 
the realms of the dead. He places it on the west of the 
earth, near Ocean, and describes it as a happy land, 
W'here there is neither snow, nor cold, nor rain, and 
always fanned by the delightful breezes of Zephyrus. 
Hither favored heroes pass \vithout dying and live happy 
under the rule of Rhadamanthus. The Elysium of 
Hesiod and Pindar is in the Isles of the Blessed, or 
Fortunate Islands, in the Western Ocean. From these 
sprang the legend of the happy island Atlantis. This 
blissful region may have been wholly imaginary, but 
possibly may have sprung from the reports of some 
storm-driven mariners who had caught a glimpse of the 
coast of America. 

J. R. Lowell, in one of his shorter poems, claims for 
the present age some of the privileges of that happy 
realm. Addressing the Past, he says : 

"Whatever of true life there was in thee, 
Leaps in our age's veins. 

Here, 'mid the bleak waves of our strife and care, 

Float the green 'Fortunate Isles,' 
Where all thy hero-spirits dwell and share 
Our martyrdoms and toils. 
The present moves attended 
With all of brave and excellent and fair 
That made the old time splendid." 



274 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Milton also alludes to the same fable in "Paradise 
Lost," Book III., 1. 568: 

"Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old, 
Fortunate fields and groves and flowery vales, 
Thrice happy isles." 



And in Book II. he characterizes the rivers of Erebus 
xording 
lansfuajje 



according to the meaning of their names in the Greek 



'Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate, 
Sad Acheron of sorrow black and deep; 
Cocytus named of lamentation loud 
Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegethon 
Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. 
Far off from these a slow and silent stream, 
Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls 
Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks 
Forthwith his former state and being forgets, 
Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain." 

THE SIBYL 

As ^neas and the Sibyl pursued their way back to 
earth, he said to her, "Whether thou be a goddess or 
a mortal beloved of the gods, by me thou shalt always 
be held in reverence. When I reach the upper air I 
will cause a temple to be built to thy honor, and will 
myself bring offerings." "I am no goddess," said the 
Sibyl; 'T have no claim to sacrifice or offering-.^_I^ anx- 
mortal ; yet if I could have accepted the love oi Apollo^ 
I might have been immortal. He promised me tn^~faP 
filment of my wish, if I would consent to be his. I 
took a handful of sand, and holding it forth, said, 'Grant 
me to see as many birthdays as there are sand grains 
in my hand.' Unluckily I forgot to ask for enduring 
youth. This also he would have granted, could I have 
accepted his love, but offended at my refusal, he allowed 
me to grow old. My youth and youthful strength fled 
long ago. I have lived seven hundred years, and to 
equal the number of the sand grains I have still to see 
three hundred springs and three hundred harvests. My 
body shrinks up as years increase, and in time, I shall 
be lost to sight, but my voice will remain, and future 
ages will respect my sayings." 



THE SIBYL 275 

These concluding words of the Sibyl alluded to her 
prophetic power. In her cave she was accustomed to 
inscribe on leaves gathered from the trees the names 
and fates of individuals. The leaves thus inscribed were 
arranged in order within the cave, and might be con- 
sulted by her votaries. But if perchance at the opening 
of the door the wind rushed in and dispersed the leaves 
the Sibyl gave no aid to restoring them again, and the 
oracle was irreparably lost. 

The following legend of the Sibyl is fixed at a later 
date. In the reign of one of the Tarquins there ap- 
peared before the king a woman who offered him nine 
books for sale. The king refused to purchase them, 
whereupon the woman went away and burned three of 
the books, and returning offered the remaining books 
for the same price she had asked for the nine. The 
king again rejected them; but when the woman, after 
burning three books more, returned and asked for the 
three remaining the same price which she had before 
asked for the nine, his curiosity was excited, and he 
purchased the books. They were found to contain the 
destinies of the Roman state. They were kept in the 
temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, preserved in a stone chest, 
and allowed to be inspected only by especial officers ap- 
pointed for that duty, who, on great occasions, consulted 
them and interpreted their oracles to the people. 

There were various Sibyls ; but the Cumaean Sibyl, of 
whom Ovid and Virgil write, is the most celebrated of 
them. Ovid's story of her life protracted to one thousand 
years may be intended to represent the various Sibyls 
as being only reappearances of one and the same in- 
dividual. 

Young, in the "Night Thoughts," alludes to the Sibyl. 
Speaking of Worldly Wisdom, he says : 

"If future fate she plans 'tis all in leaves, 
Like Sibyl, unsubstantial, fleeting bliss; 
At the first blast it vanishes in air. 

As worldly schemes resemble Sibyl's leaves. 
The good man's days to Sibyl's books compare. 
The price still rising as in number less." 



276 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



CHAPTER XXXni 

CAMILLA EVANDER NISUS AND EURYALUS MEZENTIUS 

TURNUS 

^NEAs, having parted from the Sibyl and rejoined 
his fleet, coasted along the shores of Italy and cast anchor 
in the mouth of the Tiber. The poet, having brought 
his hero to this spot, the destined termination of his wan- 
derings, invokes his Muse to tell him the situation of 
things at that eventful moment. Latinus, third in descent 
from Saturn, ruled the country. He was now old and 
had no male descendant, but had one charming daughter, 
Lavinia, who was sought in marriage by many neighbor- 
ing chiefs, one of whom, Turnus, king of the Rutulians, 
was favored by the wishes of her parents. But Latinus 
had been warned in a dream by his father Faunus, that 
the destined husband of Lavinia should come from a for- 
eign land. From that union should spring a race destined 
to subdue the world. 

Our readers will remember that in the conflict with 
the Harpies one of those half-human birds had threat- 
ened the Trojans with dire sufferings. In particular she 
predicted that before their wanderings ceased they 
should be pressed by hunger to devour their tables. This 
portent now came true; for as they took their scanty 
meal, seated on the grass, the men placed their hard bis- 
cuit on their laps, and put thereon whatever their glean- 
ings in the woods supplied. Having despatched the 
latter they finished by eating the crusts. Seeing which, 
the boy lulus said playfully, "See, we are eating our. 
tables." ^.neas caught the words and accepted the omen. 
"All hail, promised land!" he exclaimed, "this is our 
home, this our country." He then took measures to find 
out who were the present inhabitants of the land, and 
who their rulers. A hundred chosen men were sent 
to the village of Latinus, bearing presents and a re- 
quest for friendship and alliance. They went and were 
favorably received. Latinus immediately concluded that 



OPENING THE GATES OF JANUS 277 

the Trojan hero was no other than the promised son-in- 
law announced by the oracle. He cheerfully granted 
his alliance and sent back the messengers mounted on 
steeds from his stables, and loaded with gifts and 
friendly messages. 

Juno, seeing things go thus prosperously for the Tro- 
jans, felt her old animosity revive, summoned Alecto 
from Erebus, and sent her to stir up discord. The Fury 
first took possession of the queen, Amata, and roused 
her to oppose in every way the new alliance. Alecto 
then speeded to the city of Turnus, and assuming the 
form of an old priestess, informed him of the^ arrival of 
the foreigners and of the attempts of their prmce to rob 
him of his bride. Next she turned her attention to the 
camp of the Trojans. There she saw the boy lulus and 
his companions amusing themselves with hunting. She 
sharpened the scent of the dogs, and led them to rouse 
up from the thicket a tame stag, the favorite of Silvia, 
the daughter of Tyrrheus, the king's herdsman. A javelin 
from the hand of lulus wounded the animal, and he had 
only strength left to run homewards, and died at his mis- 
tress's feet. Her cries and tears roused her brothers and 
the herdsmen, and they, seizing whatever weapons came 
to hand, furiously assaulted the hunting party. These 
were protected by their friends, and the herdsmen were 
finally driven back with the loss of two of their number. 

These things were enough to rouse the storm of war, 
and the queen, Turnus, and the peasants all urged the 
old king to drive the strangers from the country. He 
resisted as long as he could, but, finding his opposition 
unavailing, finally gave way and retreated to his retire- 
ment. 

OPENING THE GATES OF JANUS 

It was the custom of the country, when war was to 
be undertaken, for the chief magistrate, clad in his robes 
of office, with solemn pomp to open the gates of the 
temple of Janus, which were kept shut as long as peace 
endured. His people now urged the old king to perform 
that solemn office, but he refused to do so. While they 



278 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

contested, Juno herself, descending from the skies, smote 
the doors with irresistible force, and burst them open. 
Immediately the whole country was in a flame. The 
people rushed from every side breathing nothing but 
war. 

Turnus was recognized by all as leader; others joined 
as allies, chief of whom was Mezentius, a brave and able 
soldier, but of detestable cruelty. He had been the chief 
of one of the neighboring cities, but his people drove 
him out. With him was joined his son Lausus, a gen- 
erous youth, worthy of a better sire. 

CAMILLA 

Camilla, the favorite of Diana, a huntress and warrior, 
after the fashion of the Amazons, came with her band 
of mounted followers, including a select number of her 
own sex, and ranged herself on the side of Turnus. 
This maiden had never accustomed her fingers to the 
distaff or the loom, but had learned to endure the toils 
of war, and in speed to outstrip the wind. It seemed as 
if she might run over the standing corn without crushing 
it, or over the surface of the water without dipping her 
feet. Camilla's history had been singular from the begin- 
ning. Her father, Metabus, driven from his city by civil 
discord, carried with him in his flight his infant daughter. 
As he fled through the woods, his enemies in hot pursuit, 
he reached the bank of the river Amazenus, which, 
swelled by rains, seemed to debar a passage. He paused 
for a moment, then decided what to do. He tied 
the infant to his lance with wrappers of bark, and poising 
the weapon in his upraised hand thi^ addressed Diana : 
"Goddess of the woods! I consecrate this maid to you;" 
then hurled the weapon with its burden to the opposite 
bank. The spear flew across the roaring water. His 
pursuers were already upon him, but he plunged into 
the river and swam across, and found the spear, with 
the infant safe on the other side. Thenceforth he lived 
among the shepherds and brought up his daughter in 
woodland arts. While a child she was taught to use the 
bow and throw the javelin. With her sling she could 



EVANDER 279 

bring down the crane or the wild swan. ' Her dress was a 
tiger's skin. Many mothers sought her for a daughter- 
in-law, but she continued faithful to Diana and repelled 
the thought of marriage. 

EVANDER 

Such were the formidable allies that ranged them- 
selves against ^neas. It was night and he lay stretched 
m sleep on the bank of the river under the open heavens. 
The god of the stream, Father Tiber, seemed to raise 
his head above the willows and to say, "O goddess-born, 
destined possessor of the Latin realms, this is the prom- 
ised land, here is to be your home, here shall terminate 
the hostility of the heavenly powers, if only you faith- 
fully persevere. There are friends not far distant. Pre- 
pare your boats and row up my stream ; I will lead you 
to Evander. the Arcadian chief, he has long been at 
strife with Turnus and the Rutulians, and is pre- 
pared to become an ally of yours. Rise ! offer your 
vows to Juno, and deprecate her anger. When you have 
achieved your victory then think of me." iEneas woke 
and paid immediate obedience to the friendly vision. He 
sacrificed to Juno, and invoked the god of the river and 
all his tributary fountains to lend their aid. Then for 
the first time a vessel filled with armed warriors floated 
on the stream of the Tiber. The river smoothed irs 
waves, and bade its current flow gently, while, impelled 
by the vigorous strokes of the rowers, the vessels shot 
rapidly up the stream. 

About the middle of the day they came in sight of 
the scattered buildings of the infant town, where in after 
times the proud city of Rome grew, whose glory reached 
the skies. By chance the old king, Evander, was that 
day celebrating annual solemnities in honor of Hercules 
and all the gods. Pallas, his son, and all the chiefs of 
the little commonwealth stood by. When they saw the 
tall ship gliding onward near the wood, they were 
alarmed at the sight, and rose from the tables. Rut 
Pallas forbade the solemnities to be interrupted, and 
seizing a weapon, stepped forward to the river's bank. 



280 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

He called aloud, demanding who they were, and what 
their object, ^neas, holding forth an olive-branch, 
replied, "We are Trojans, friends to you, and enemies 
to the Rutulians. We seek Evander, and offer to join 
our arms with yours." Pallas, in amaze at the sound of 
so great a name, invited them to land, and when ^neas 
touched the shore he seized his hand, and held it long in 
friendly grasp. Proceeding through the wood, they 
joined the king and his party and were most favorably 
received. Seats were provided for them at the tables, 
and the repast proceeded. 

r 

INFANT ROME 

When the solemnities were ended all moved towards 
the city. The king, bending with age, walked be- 
tween his son and ^neas, taking the arm of one or the 
other of them, and with much variety of pleasing talk 
shortening the way. ^neas with delight looked and 
listened, observing all the beauties of the scene, and 
learning much of heroes renowned in ancient times. 
Evander said, "These extensive groves were once in- 
habited by fauns and nymphs, and a rude race of men 
who sprang from the trees themselves, and had neither 
laws nor social culture. They knew not how to yoke the 
cattle nor raise a harvest, nor provide from present abun- 
dance for future want ; but browsed like beasts upon the 
leafy boughs, or fed voraciously on their hunted prey. 
Such were they when Saturn, expelled from Olympus by 
his sons, came among them and drew together the fierce 
savages, formed them into society, and gave them laws. 
Such peace and plenty ensued that men ever since have 
called his reign the golden age; but by degrees far other 
times succeeded, and the thirst of gold and the thirst of 
blood prevailed. The land was a prey to successive ty- 
rants, till fortune and resistless destiny brought me 
hither, an exile from my native land, Arcadia." 

Having thus said, he showed him the Tarpeian rock, 
and the rude spot then overgrown with bushes where in 
after times the Capitol rose in all its magnificence. He 
next pointed to some dismantled walls, and said, "Here 



INFANT ROME 281 

s^iood Janiculum, built by Janus, and there Saturnia, the 
town of Saturn." Such discourse brought them to the 
cottage of poor Evander, whence they saw the lowing 
herds roaming over .the plain where now the proud and 
stately Forum stands. They entered, and a couch was 
spread for ^neas, well stuffed with leaves, and covered 
with the skin of a Libyan bear. 

Next morning, awakened by the dawn and the shrill 
song of birds beneath the eaves of his low mansion, old 
Evander rose. Clad in a tunic, and a panther's skin 
thrown over his shoulders, with sandals on his feet and 
his good sword girded to his side, he went forth to seek 
his guest. Two mastiffs followed him, his whole retinue 
and body guard. He found the hero attended by his 
faithful Achates, and, Pallas soon joining them, the old 
king spoke thus : 

"Illustrious Trojan, it is but little we can do in so 
great a cause. Our state is feeble, hemmed in on one 
side by the river, on the other by the Rutulians. But I 
propose to ally you with a people numerous and rich, to 
whom fate has brought you at the propitious moment. 
The Etruscans hold the country beyond the river. Mezen- 
tius was their king, a monster of cruelty, who invented 
unheard-of torments to gratify his vengeance. He 
would fasten the dead to the living, hand to hand and 
face to face, and leave the wretched victims to die in 
that dreadful embrace. At length the people cast him 
out, him and his house. They burned his palace and 
slew his friends. He escaped and took refuge with 
Turnus, who protects him with arms. The Etruscans 
demand that he shall be given up to deserved punishment, 
and would ere now have attempted to enforce their de- 
mand ; but their priests restrain them, telling them that 
it is the will of heaven that no native of the land shall 
guide them to victory, and that th;.ir destined leader 
must come from across the sea. They have offered the 
crown to me, but I am too old to undertake such great 
affairs, and my son is native-born, which precludes him 
from the choice. You, equally by birth and time of life, 
and fame in arms, pointed out by the gods, have but to 
appear to be hailed at once as their leader. With you 



282 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

I will join Pallas, my son, my only hope and comfort. 
Under you he shall learn the art of war, and strive to 
emulate your great exploits." 

Then the king ordered horses to be furnished for 
the Trojan chiefs, and ^neas, with a chosen band of 
followers and Pallas accompanying, mounted and took 
the way to the Etruscan city,^ having sent back the rest 
of his party in the ships. /Eneas and his band safely ar- 
rived at the Etruscan camp and were received with open 
arms by Tarchon and his countrymen. 

"NISUS AND EURYALUS 

In the meanwhile Turnus had collected his bands and 
made all necessary preparations for the war. Juno sent 
Iris to him with a message inciting him to take advan- 
tage of the absence of ^neas and surprise the Trojan 
camp. Accordingly the attempt was made, but the Tro- 
jans were found on their guard, and having received 
strict orders from /Eneas not to fight in his absence, they 
lay still in their intrenchments, and resisted all the efforts 
of the Rutulians to draw them into the field. Night 
coming on, the army of Turnus, in high spirits at their 
fancied superiority, feasted and enjoyed themselves, and 
finally stretched themselves on the field and slept secure. 

In the camp of the Trojans things were far otherwise. 
There all was watchfulness and anxiety and impatience 
for /Eneas's return. Nisus stood guard at the entrance 
of the camp, and Euryalus, a youth distinguished above 
all in the army for graces of person and fine qualities, 
was with him. These two were friends and brothers 
in arms. Nisus said to his friemi, "Do you per- 
ceive what confidence and carelessness the enemy dis- 
play? Their lights are few and dim, and the men seem 
all oppressed with wine or sleep. You know how anx- 
iously our chiefs wish to send to ^neas, and to get intel- 
ligence from him. Now, I am strongly moved to make 
my way through the enemy's camp and to go in search 

* The poet here inserts a famous line which is thought to imitate in its 
sound the galloping of horses. It may be thus translated: "Then struck 
the hoofs of the steeds on the ground with a four-footed trampling." 
See Proverbial Expressions. 



NISUS AND EURYALUS 283 

of our chief. If I succeed, the glory of the deed will be 
reward enough for me, and if they judge the service 
deserves anything more, let them pay it to you." 

Euryalus, all on fire with the love of adventure, re- 
plied, "Would you, then, Nisus, refuse to share your 
enterprise with me? And shall I let you go into such 
danger alone? Not so my brave father brought me up, 
nor so have 1 planned for myself when I joined the 
standard of ^neas, and resolved to hold my life cheap 
in comparison with honor." Nisus replied, "I doubt it 
not, my friend ; but you know the uncertain event of 
such an undertaking, and whatever may happen to me, I 
wish you to be safe. You are younger than I and have 
more of life in prospect. Nor can I be the cause of such 
grief to your mother, who has chosen to be here in the 
camp with you rather than stay and live in peace with 
the other matrons in Acestes' city." Euryalus replied, 
"Say no more. In vain you seek arguments to dissuade 
me. I am fixed in the resolution to go with you. Let us 
lose no time." They called the guard, and committing 
the watch to them, sought the general's tent. They 
found the chief officers in consultation, deliberating how 
they should send notice to ^neas of their situation. The 
offer of the two friends was gladly accepted, themselves 
loaded with praises and promised the most liberal re- 
wards in case of success. lulus especially addressed 
Euryalus, assuring him of his lasting friendship. Eury- 
alus replied, "I have but one boon to ask. My aged 
mother is with me in the camp. For me she left the Trojan 
soil, and would not stay behind with the other matrons 
at the city of Acestes. I go now without taking leave of 
her. I could not bear her tears nor set at nought her en- 
treaties. But do thou, I beseech you, comfort her in her 
distress. Promise me that and I shall go more boldly 
into whatever dangers may present themselves." lulus 
and the other chiefs were moved to tears, and prom- 
ised to do all his request. "Your mother shall be mine," 
said lulus, "and all that I have promised to you shall be 
made good to her, if you do not return to receive it." 

The two friends left the camp and plunged at once 
into the midst of the enemy. They found no watcii, 



284 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

no sentinels posted, but, all about, the sleeping soldiers 
strewn on the grass and among the wagons. The laws 
of war at that early day did not forbid a brave man to 
slay a sleeping foe, and the two Trojans slew, as they 
passed, such of the enemy as they could without exciting 
alarm. In one tent Euryalus made prize of a helmet 
brilliant with gold and plumes. They had passed through 
the enemy's ranks without being discovered, but now 
suddenly appeared a troop directly in front of them, 
which, under Volscens, their leader, were approaching 
the camp. The glittering helmet of Euryalus caught 
their attention, and Volscens hailed the two, and de- 
manded who and whence they were. They made no 
answer, but plunged into the wood. The horsemen 
scattered in all directions to intercept their flight. Nisus 
had eluded pursuit and was out of danger, but Euryalus 
being missing he turned back to seek him. He again en- 
tered the wood and soon came within sound of voices. 
Looking through the thicket he saw the whole band sur- 
rounding Euryalus with noisy questions. What should 
he do ? how extricate the youth, or would it be better to 
die with him. 

Raising his eyes to the moon, which now shone clear, 
he said, "Goddess ! favor my effort !" and aiming his 
javelin at one of the leaders of the troop, struck him 
in the back and stretched him on the plain with a death- 
blow. In the midst of their amazement another weapon 
flew and another of the party fell dead. Volscens, the 
leader, ignorant whence the darts came, rushed sword in 
hand upon Euryalus. "You shall pay the penalty of 
both," he said, and would have plugged the sword into 
his bosom, when Nisus, who from his concealment saw 
the peril of his friend, rushed forward exclaiming, 
" 'Twas I, 'twas I ; turn your swords against me, Ru- 
tulians, I did it; he only followed me as a friend." While 
he spoke the sword fell, and pierced the comely bosom 
of Euryalus. His head fell over on his shoulder, like a 
flower cut down by the plough. Nisus rushed upon 
Volscens and plunged his sword into his body, and was 
himself slain on the instant by numberless blows. 



MEZENTIUS 285 



MEZENTIUS 

^neas, with his Etrurian allies, arrived on the scene 
of action in time to rescue his beleaguered camp; and 
now the two armies being nearly equal in strength, the 
war began in good earnest. We cannot find space for 
all the details, but must simply record the fate of the 
principal characters whom Ave have introduced to our 
readers. The tyrant Mezentius, finding himself engaged 
against his revolting subjects, raged like a wild beast. 
He slew all who dared to withstand him, and put the 
multitude to flight wherever he appeared. At last he 
encountered ^neas, and the armies stood still to see 
the issue. Mezentius threw his spear, which striking 
^neas's shield glanced ofl:' and hit Author. He was a 
Grecian by birth, who had left Argos, his native city, 
and followed Evander into Italy. The poet says of him 
with simple pathos which has made the words proverbial, 
"He fell, unhappy, by a wound intended for another, 
looked up at the skies, and dying remembered sweet 
Argos. "^ ^neas now in turn hurled his lance. It 
pierced the shield of Mezentius, and wounded him in 
the thigh. Lausus, his son, could not bear the sight, but 
rushed forward and interposed himself, while the fol- 
lowers pressed round Mezentius and bore him away, 
^neas held his sword suspended over Lausus and de- 
layed to strike, but the furious youth pressed on and he 
was compelled to deal the fatal blow. Lausus fell, and 
^neas bent over him in pity. "Hapless youth," he said, 
"what cari, I do for you worthy of your praise? Keep 
those arms in which you glory, and fear not but that your 
body shall be restored to your friends, and have due 
funeral honors." So saying, he called the timid follow- 
ers and delivered the body into their hands. 

Mezentius meanwhile had been borne to the riverside, 
and washed his wound. Soon the news reached him of 
Lausus's death, and rage and despair supplied the place 
of strength. He mounted his horse and dashed into the 
thickest of the fight, seeking ^neas. Having found him, 

* See Proverbial Expressions. 



286 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

he rode round him in a circle, throwing one javelin after 
another, while ^neas stood fenced with his shield, turn- 
ing every way to meet them. At last, after Mezentius 
had three times made the circuit, ^neas threw his lance 
directly at the horse's head. It pierced his temples and 
he fell, while a shout from both armies rent the skies. 
Mezentius asked no mercy, but only that his body might 
be spared the insults of his revolted subjects, and be 
buried in the same grave with his son. He received the 
fatal stroke not unprepared, and poured out his life and 
his blood togfether. 



^t3^ 



PALLAS^ CAMILLA^ TURNUS 

While these things were doing in one part of the field, 
in another Turnus encountered the youthful Pallas. The 
contest between champions so unequally matched could 
not be doubtful. Pallas bore himself bravely, but fell by 
the lance of Turnus. The victor almost relented when 
he saw the brave youth lying dead at his feet, and spared 
to use the privilege of a conqueror in despoiling him of 
his arms. The belt only, adorned with studs and carv- 
ings of gold, he took and clasped round his own body. 
The rest he remitted to the friends of the slain. 

After the battle there was a cessation of arms for 
some days to allow both armies to bury their dead. In 
this interval ^neas challenged Turnus to decide the con- 
test by single combat, but Turnus evaded the challenge. 
Another battle ensued, in which Camilla, the virgin war- 
rior, was chiefly conspicuous. Her ^eeds of valor sur- 
passed those of the bravest warriors', and many Trojans 
and Etruscans fell pierced with her darts or struck down 
by her battle-axe. At last an Etruscan named Aruns, 
who had watched her long, seeking for some advantage, 
observed her pursuing a flying enemy whose splendid 
armor offered a tempting prize. Intent on the chase 
she observed not her danger, and the javelin of Aruns 
struck her and inflicted a fatal wound. She fell and 
breathed her last in the arms of her attendant maidens. 
But Diana, who beJneld her fate, suffered not her 
slaughter to be unavenged. Aruns, as he stole away, 



PALLAS, CAMILLA, TURNUS 287 

glad, but frightened, was struck by a secret arrow, 
launched by one of the nymphs of Diana's train, and 
died ignobly and unknown. 

At length the final conflict took place between ^neas 
and Turnus. Turnus had avoided the contest as long as 
he could, but at last, impelled by the ill success of his 
arms and by the murmurs of his followers, he braced 
himself to the conflict. It could not be doubtful. On 
the side of ^neas were the expressed decree of destiny, 
the aid of his goddess-mother at every emergency, and 
impenetrable arm.or fabricated by Vulcan, at her request, 
for her son. Turnus, on the other hand, was deserted 
by his celestial allies, Juno having been expressly for- 
bidden by Jupiter to assist him any longer. Turnus 
threw his lance, but it recoiled harmless from the shield 
of ^neas. The Trojan hero then threw his, which pene- 
trated the shield of Turnus, and pierced his thigh. Then 
Turnus's fortitude forsook him and he begged for mercy; 
and ^neas would have given him his life, but at the in- 
stant his eye fell on the belt of Pallas, which Turnus had 
taken from the slaughtered youth. Instantly his rage 
revived, and exclaiming, "Pallas immolates thee with 
this blow," he thrust him through with his sword. 

Here the poem of the "/Eneid" closes, and we are 
left to infer that yEneas, having triumphed over his foes, 
obtained Lavinia for his bride. Tradition adds that he 
founded his city, and called it after her name, Lavin- 
ium. His son lulus founded Alba Longa, which was the 
birthplace of Romulus and Remus and the cradle of 

Rome itself. 

> 

There is an allusion to Camilla in those well-known 
lines of Pope, in which, illustrating the rule that "the 
sound should be an echo to the sense," he says : 

"When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw, 
The Hne too labors and the words move slow. 
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, 
Flies o'er th' unbending corn or skims along the main." 

Essay on Criticism. 



288 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

PYTHAGORAS EGYPTIAN DEITIES ORACLES 

PYTHAGORAS 

The teachings of Anchises to ^neas, respecting the 
nature of the human soul, were in conformity with the 
doctrines of the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras (born five 
hundred and forty years B.C.) was a native of the 
island of Samos, but passed the chief portion of his 
life at Crotona in Italy. He is therefore sometimes 
called "the Samian," and sometimes "the philosopher of 
Crotona." When young he travelled extensively, and 
it is said visited Egypt, where he was instructed by the 
priests in all their learning, and afterwards journeyed 
to the East, and visited the Persian and Chaldean Magi, 
and the Brahmins of India. 

At Crotona, where he finally established himself, his 
extraordinary qualities collected round him a great num- 
ber of disciples. The inhabitants were notorious for 
luxury and licentiousness, but the good efifects of his 
influence were soon visible. Sobriety and temperance 
succeeded. Six hundred of the inhabitants became his 
disciples and enrolled themselves in a society to aid each 
other in the pursuit of wisdom, uniting their prop- 
erty in one common stock for the benefit of the whole. 
They were required to practise the greatest purity and 
simplicity of manners. The first lesson they learned 
was silence; for a time they were 4equired to be only 
hearers. "He [Pythagoras] said so" (Ipse dixit), was 
to be held by them as sufficient, without any proof. It 
was only the advanced pupils, after years of patient 
submission, who were allowed to ask questions and to 
state objections. 

Pythagoras considered numbers as the essence and 
principle of all things, and attributed to them a real and 
distinct existence ; so that, in his view, they were the 
elements out of which the universe was constructed. 



PYTHAGORAS 289 

How he conceived this process has never been satis- 
factorily explained. ' He traced the various forms and 
phenomena of the world to numbers as their basis and 
essence. The "Monad" or unit he regarded as the 
source of all numbers. The number Tzvo was imper- 
fect, and the cause of increase and division. Three was 
called the number of the whole because it had a be- 
ginning, middle, and end. Foiir, representing the square, 
is in the highest degree perfect ; and Ten, as it contains 
the sum of the four prime numbers, comprehends all 
musical and arithmetical proportions, and denotes the 
system of the world. 

As the numbers proceed from the monad, so he re- 
garded the pure and simple essence of the Deity as the 
source of all the forms of nature. Gods, demons, and 
heroes are emanations of the Supreme, and there is a 
fourth emanation, the human soul. This is immortal, 
and when freed from the fetters of the body passes to 
the habitation of the dead, where it remains till it re- 
turns to the world, to dwell in some other human or 
animal body, and at last, when sufficiently purified, it 
returns to the source from which it proceeded. This 
doctrine of the transmigration of souls (metempsycho- 
sis), which was originally Egyptian and connected with 
the doctrine of reward and punishment of human ac- 
tions, was the chief cause why the Pythagoreans killed 
no animals. Ovid represents Pythagoras addressing his 
disciples in these words: "Souls never die, but always 
on quitting one abode pass to another. I myself can 
remember that in the time of the Trojan war I was 
Euphorbus, the son of Panthus, and fell by the spear 
of Menelaus. Lately being in the temple of Juno, at 
Argos, I recognized my shield hung up there among 
the trophies. All things change, nothing perishes. The 
soul passes hither and thither, occupying now this body, 
now that, passing from the body of a beast into that 
of a man, and thence to a beast's again. As wax is 
stamped with certain figures, then melted, then stamped 
anew with others, yet is always the same wax, so the 
soul, being always the same, yet wears, at different 
times, different forms. Therefore, if the love of kin- 



290 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

dred is not Q^ctinct in your bosoms, forbear, I entreat 
you, to violate the life of those who may haply be your 
own relatives." 

Shakspeare, in the "Merchant of Venice," makes 
Gratiano allude to the metempsychosis, where he says 
to Shylock : 

"Thou almost mak'st me waver in my faith, 
To hold opinion with Pythagoras, 
That souls of animals infuse themselves 
Into the trunks of men ; thy currish spirit 

Governed a wolf ; who hanged for human slaughter 
Infused his soul in thee; for thy desires 
Are wolfish, bloody, starved and ravenous." 

The relation of the notes of the musical scale to 
numbers, whereby harmony results from vibrations in 
equal times, and discord from the reverse, led Pythag- 
oras to apply the word "harmony" to the visible crea- 
tion, meaning by it the just adaptation of parts to each 
other. This is the idea which Dryden expresses in the 
beginning of his "Song for St. Cecilia's Day" : 

"From harmony, from heavenly harmony 
This everlasting frame began; 
From harmony to harmony 
Through all the compass of the notes it ran, 
The Diapason closing full in Man." 

In the centre of the universe (he taught) there was a 
central fire, the principle of life. The central fire was 
surrounded by the earth, the moon, the sun, and the 
five planets. The distances of th^e various heavenly 
bodies from one another were conceived to correspond 
to the proportions of the musical scale. The heavenly 
bodies, with the gods who inhabited them, were sup- 
posed to perform a choral dance round the central fire, 
"not without song." It is this doctrine which Shak- 
speare alludes to when he makes Lorenzo teach astron- 
omy to Jessica in this fashion : 

"Look, Jessica, see how the floor of heaven 
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold! 



I 



PYTHAGORAS 291 

There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st 
But in his motion like an angel sings. 
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim; 
Such harmony is in immortal souls ! 
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay 
Doth grossly close it in we cannot hear it." 

Merchant of Venice. 

The spheres were conceived to be crystalline or glassy 
fabrics arranged over one another like a nest of bowls 
reversed. In the substance of each sphere one or more 
of the heavenly bodies was supposed to be fixed, so as 
to move with it. As the spheres are transparent we 
look through them and see the heavenly bodies which 
they contain and carry round with them. But as these 
spheres cannot move on one another without friction, 
a sound is thereby produced which is of exquisite har- 
mony, too fine for mortal ears to recognize. Milton, in 
his "Hymn on the Nativity," thus alludes to the music 
of the spheres : 

"Ring out, ye crystal spheres ! 
Once bless our human ears 

(If ye have power to charm our senses so) ; 
And let your silver chime 
Move in melodious time, 

And let the base of Heaven's deep organ blow; 
And with your ninefold harmony 
Make up full concert with the angelic symphony." 

Pythagoras is said to have invented the lyre. Our 
own poet Longfellow, in "Verses to a Child," thus re- 
lates the story : 

"As great Pythagoras of yore. 
Standing beside the blacksmith's door, 
And hearing the hammers as they smote 
The anvils with a different note, 
Stole from the varying tones that hung 
Vibrant on every iron tongue, 
The secret of the sounding wire. 
And formed the seven-chorded lyre." 

See also the same poet's "Occultation of Orion" 
"The Samian's great ^olian lyre." 



292 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



SYBARIS AND CROTONA 

Sybaris, a neighboring city to Crotona, was as cele- 
brated for luxury and effeminacy as Crotona for the 
reverse. The name has become proverbial. J. R. 
Lowell uses it in this sense in his charming little poem 
"To the Dandelion": 

"Not in mid June the golden cuirassed bee 
Feels a more summer-like, warm ravishment 

In the white lily's breezy tent 
(His conquered Sybaris) than I when first 
From the dark green thy yellow circles burst." 

A war arose between the two cities, and Sybaris was 
conquered and destroyed. Milo, the celebrated athlete, 
led the army of Crotona. Many stories are told of 
Milo's vast strength, such as his carrying a heifer of 
four years old upon his shoulders and afterwards eat- 
ing the whole of it in a single day. The mode of his 
death is thus related: As he was passing through a 
forest he saw the trunk of a tree which had been par- 
tially split open by wood-cutters, and attempted to rend 
it further; but the wood closed upon his hands and held 
him fast, in which state he was attacked and devoured 
by wolves. 

Byron, in his "Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte," alludes 
to the story of Milo : 

"He who of old would rend the oak 
Deemed not of the rebound; 
Chained by the trunk he vainly broke, 
Alone, how looked he roij^d !" 



EGYPTIAN DEITIES 

The Egyptians acknowledged as the highest deity 
Amun, afterwards called Zeus, or Jupiter Ammon. 
Amun manifested himself in his word or will, which 
created Kneph and Athor, of different sexes. From 
Kneph and Athor proceeded Osiris and Isis. Osiris was 
worshipped as the god of the sun, the source of warmth, 



MYTH OF OSIRIS AND ISIS 293 

life, and fruitfulness, in addition to which he was also 
regarded as the god of the Nile, who annually visited 
his wife, Isis (the Earth), by means of an inundation. 
Serapis or Hermes is sometimes represented as identical 
with Osiris, and sometimes as a distinct divinity, the 
ruler of Tartarus and god of medicine. Anubis is the 
guardian god, represented with a dog's head, emblematic 
of his character of fidelity and watchfulness. Horus or 
Harpocrates was the son of Osiris. He is represented 
seated on a Lotus flower, with his finger on his lips, as 
the god of Silence. 

In one of Moore's "Irish Melodies" is an allusion to 
Harpocrates : 

"Thyself shall, under some rosy bower, 
Sit mute, with thy finger on thy lip; 

Like him, the boy, who born among 

The flowers that on the Nile-stream blush, 

Sits ever thus, his only song 
To Earth and Heaven, 'Hush all, hush!'" 

MYTH OF CSIRIS AND ISIS 

Osiris and Isis were at one time induced to descend 
to the earth to bestow gifts and blessings on its inhabi- 
tants. Isis showed them first the use of wheat and 
barley, and Osiris made the instruments of agriculture 
and taught men the use of them, as well as how to 
harness the ox to the plough. He then gave men laws, 
the institution of marriage, a civil organization, and 
taught them how to worship the gods. After he had 
thus made the valley of the Nile a happy country, 
he assembled a host with which he went to bestow his 
blessings upon the rest of the world. He conquered the 
nations everywhere, but not with weapons, only with 
music and eloquence. His brother Typhon saw this, 
and filled with envy and malice sought during his ab- 
sence to usurp his throne. But Isis, who held the reins 
of government, frustrated his plans. Still more em- 
bittered, he now resolved to kill his brother. This he 
did in the following manner: Having organized a con- 
spiracy of seventy-two members, he went with them 



294 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

to the feast which was celebrated in honor of the king's 
return. He then caused a box or chest to be brought 
in, which had been made to fit exactly the size of Osiris, 
and declared that he would give that chest of precious 
wood to whosoever could get into it. The rest tried 
in vain, but no sooner was Osiris in it than Typhon and 
his companions closed the lid and flung the chest into 
the Nile. When Isis heard of the cruel murder she 
wept and mourned, and then with her hair shorn, clothed 
in black and beating her breast, she sought diligently 
for the body of her husband. In this search she was 
materially assisted by Anubis, the son of Osiris and 
Nephthys. They sought in vain for some time ; for 
when the chest, carried by the waves to the shores of 
Byblos, had become entangled in the reeds that grew 
at the edge of the water, the divine power that dwelt in 
the body of Osiris imparted such strength to the shrub 
that it grew into a mighty tree, enclosing in its trunk 
the coffin of the god. This tree with its sacred deposit 
was. shortly after felled, and erected as a column in 
the palace of the king of Phoenicia. But at length by 
the aid of Anubis and the sacred birds. Isis ascertained 
these facts, and then went to the royal city. There she 
offered herself at the palace as a servant, and being 
admitted, threw off her disguise and appeared as a 
goddess, surrounded with thunder and lightning. Strik- 
ing the column with her wand she caused it to split open 
and give up the sacred coffin. This she seized and re- 
turned with it, and concealed it in the depth of a forest, 
but Typhon discovered it, and cutting the body into 
fourteen pieces scattered them hither and thither. After 
a tedious search, Isis found thirteen pieces, the fishes 
of the Nile having eaten the other. This she replaced 
by an imitation of sycamore wood, and buried the body 
^ at Philae, which became ever after the great burying 
Vp^' place of the nation, and the spot to which pilgrimages 
were made from all parts of the country. A temple 
of surpassing magnificence was also erected there in 
honor of the god, and at every place where one of his 
limbs had been found minor temples and tombs were 
built to commemorate the event. Osiris became after 



MYTH OF OSIRIS AND ISIS 295 

that the tutelar deity of the Egyptians. His soul was 
supposed always to inhabit the body of the bull Apis, 
and at his death to transfer itself to his successor. 

Apis, the Bull of Memphis, was worshipped with the 
greatest reverence by the Egyptians. The individual 
animal who was held to be Apis was recognized by 
certain signs. It was requisite that he should be quite 
black, have a white square mark on the forehead, an- 
other, in the form of an eagle, on his back, and under 
his tongue a lump somewhat in the shape of a scara- 
baeus or beetle. As soon as a bull thus marked was 
found by those sent in search of him, he was placed in 
a building facing the east, and was fed with milk for 
four months. At the expiration of this term the priests 
repaired at new moon, with great pomp, to his habita- 
tion and saluted him Apis. He was placed in a vessel 
magnificently decorated and conveyed down the Nile to 
Memphis, where a temple, with two chapels and a court 
for exercise, was assigned to him. Sacrifices were made 
to him, and once every year, about the time when the 
Nile began to rise, a golden cup was thrown into the 
river, and a grand festival was held to celebrate his 
birthday. The people believed that during this festival 
the crocodiles forgot their natural ferocity and became 
harmless. There was, however, one drawback to his 
happy lot : he was not permitted to live beyond a cer- 
tain period, and if, when he had attained the age of 
twenty-five years, he still survived, the priests drowned 
him in the sacred cistern and then buried him in the 
temple of Serapis. On the death of this bull, whether it 
occurred in the course of nature or by violence, the 
whole land was filled with sorrow and lamentations, 
which lasted until his successor was found. 

We find the following item in one of the newspapers 
of the day: 

"The Tomb of Apis. The excavations going on at 
Memphis bid fair to make that buried city as interesting 
as Pompeii. The monster tomb of Apis is now open, 
after having lain unknown for centuries." 

Milton, in his "Hymn on the Nativity," alludes to 



296 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

the Egyptian deities, not as imaginary beings, but as 
real demons, put to flight by the coming of Christ. 

"The brutish gods of Nile as fast, 
Isis and Horus and the dog Anubis haste. 

Nor is Osiris seen 

In Memphian grove or green 
Trampling the i unshowered grass with lowings loud; 

Nor can he be at rest 

Within his sacred chest ; 
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud. 

In vain with timbrel'd anthems dark 
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark." 

Isis was represented in statuary with the head veiled, 
a symbol of mystery. It is this which Tennyson al- 
ludes to in "Maud," IV., 8: 

"For the drift of the Maker is dark, an Isis hid by the veil," etc. 

ORACLES 

Oracle was the name used to denote the place where 
answers were supposed to be given by any of the 
divinities to those who consulted them respecting the 
future. The word was also used to signify the re- 
sponse which was given. 

The most ancient Grecian oracle was that of Jupiter 
at Dodona. According to one account, it was estab- 
lished in the following manner: Two black doves took 
their flight from Thebes in Egypt. One flew to Dodona 
in Epirus, and alighting in a grove of oaks, it pro- 
claimed in human language to the inhabitants of the 
district that they must establish thep6 an oracle of Jupi- 
ter. The other dove flew to the temple of Jupiter 
Ammon in the Libyan Oasis, and delivered a similar 
command there. Another account is, that they were not 
doves, but priestesses, who were carried off from 
Thebes in Egypt by the Phoenicians, and set up oracles 
at the Oasis and Dodona. The responses of the oracle 

* There being no rain in Egypt, the grass is "unshowered," and the 
country depends for its fertility upon the overflowings of the Nile. The 
ark alludea to in the last line is shown by pictures still remaining on the 
walls of the Egyptian temples to have been borne by the priests in their 
religious processions. It probably represented the chest in which Ositis 
was placed. 



ORACLE OF TROPHONIUS 297 

were given from the trees, by the branches rustling in 
the wind, the sounds being interpreted by the priests. 

But the most celebrated of the Grecian oracles was 
that of Apollo at Delphi, a city built on the slopes of 
Parnassus in Phocis. 

It had been observed at a very early period that the 
goats feeding on Parnassus were thrown into convul- 
sions when they approached a certain long deep cleft 
in the side of the mountain. This was owing to a 
peculiar vapor arising out of the cavern, and one of 
the goatherds was induced to try its effects upon him- 
self. Inhaling the intoxicating air, he was affected in 
the same manner as the cattle had been, and the in- 
habitants of the surrounding country, unable to explain 
the_ circumstance, imputed the convulsive ravings to 
which he gave utterance while under the power of the 
exhalations to a divine inspiration. The fact was speed- 
ily circulated widely, and a temple was erected on the 
spot. The prophetic influence was at first variously 
attributed to the goddess Earth, to Neptune, Themis, 
and others, but it was at length assigned to Apollo, and 
to him alone. A priestess was appointed whose office 
it was to inhale the hallowed air, and who was named 
the Pythia. She was prepared for this duty by previ- 
ous ablution at the fountain of Castalia, and being 
crowned with laurel was seated upon a tripod similarly 
adorned, which was placed over the chasm whence the 
divine afflatus proceeded. Her inspired words while 
thus situated were interpreted by the priests. 

ORACLE OF TROPHONIUS 

Besides the oracles of Jupiter and Apollo, at Dodona 
and Delphi, that of Trophonius in Bceotia was held in 
high estimation. Trophonius and Agamedes were 
i)rothers. They were distinguished architects, and built 
the temple of Apollo at Delphi, and a treasury for King 
Hyrieus. In the wall of the treasury they placed a 
stone, in such a manner that it could be taken out; and 
by this means, from time to time, purloined tlie treasure. 
This amazed tlyrieus, for his locks and seals were un- 



298 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

touched, and yet his wealth continually diminished. At 
length he set a trap for the thief and Agamedes was 
caught. Trophonius, unable to extricate him, and fear- 
ing that when found he would be compelled by torture 
to discover his accomplice, cut off his head. Trophonius 
himself is said to have been shortly afterwards swal- 
lowed up by the earth. 

The oracle of Trophonius was at Lebadea in Boeotia. 
During a great drought the Boeotians, it is' said, were 
directed by the god at Delphi to seek aid of Tropho- 
nius at Lebadea. They came thither, but could find 
no oracle. One of them, however, happening to see a 
swarm of bees, followed them to a chasm in the earth, 
which proved to be the place sought. 

Peculiar ceremonies were to be performed by the 
person who came to consult the oracle. After these 
preliminaries, he descended into the cave by a narrow 
passage. This place could be entered only in the night. 
The person returned from the cave by. the same nar- 
row passage, but walking backwards. He appeared mel- 
ancholy and dejected; and hence the proverb which was 
applied to a person low-spirited and gloomy, "He has 
been consulting the oracle of Trophonius." 

ORACLE OF ^SCULAPTUS 

There were numerous oracles of -^sculapius, but the 
most celebrated one was at Epidaurus. Here the sick 
sought responses and the recovery of their health by 
sleeping in the temple. It has been inferred from the 
accounts that have come down to us that the treatment 
of the sick resembled what is now/called Animal Mag- 
netism or Mesmerism. 

Serpents were sacred to ^sculapius, probably be- 
cause of a superstition that those animals have a faculty 
of renewing their youth by a change of skin. The wor- 
ship of ^sculapius was introduced into Rome in a time 
of great sickness, and an embassy sent to the temple of 
Epidaurus to entreat the aid of the god. vEsculapius 
was propitious, and on the return of the ship accom- 
panied it in the form of a serpent. Arriving in the 



ORACLE OF APIS 299 

river Tiber, the serpent glided from the vessel and took 
possession of an island in the river, and a temple was 
there erected to his honor. 

ORACLE OF APIS 

At Memphis the sacred bull Apis gave answer to those 
who consulted him by the manner in which he received 
or rejected what was presented to him. If the bull 
refused food from the hand of the inquirer it was con- 
sidered an unfavorable sign, and the contrary when he 
received it. 

It has been a question whether oracular responses 
ought to be ascribed to mere human contrivance or to 
the agency of evil spirits. The latter opinion has been 
most general in past ages. A third theory has been 
advanced since the phenomena of Mesmerism have at- 
tracted attention, that something like the mesmeric 
trance was induced in the Pythoness, and the faculty 
of clairvoyance really called into action. 

Another question is as to the time when the Pagan 
oracles ceased to give responses. Ancient Christian 
writers assert that they became silent at the birth of 
Christ, and were heard no more after that date. Milton 
adopts this view in his "Hymn on the Nativity," and 
in lines of solemn and elevated beauty pictures the 
consternation of the heathen idols at the advent of the 
Saviour : 

"The oracles are dumb; 
No voice or hideous hum 

Rings through the arched roof in words deceiving. 
Apollo from his shrine 
Can no more divine, 

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving. 
No nightly trance or breathed spell 
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell." 

In Cowper's poem of "Yardley Oak" there are some 
beautiful mythological allusions. The former of the 
two following is to the fable of Castor and Pollux ; the 
latter is more appropriate to our present subject. Ad- 
dressing the acorn he says : 



300 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

"Thou f ell'st mature ; and in the loamy clod, 
Swelling with vegetative force instinct, 
Didst burst thine egg, as theirs the fabled Twins 
Now stars ; two lobes protruding, paired exact ; 
A leaf succeeded and another leaf, 
And, all the elements thy puny growth 
Fostering propitious, thou becam'st a twig. 
Who lived when thou wast such? O, couldst thou speak, 
As in Dodona once thy kindred trees 
Oracular, I would not curious ask 
The future, best unknown, but at thy mouth 
Inquisitive, the less ambiguous past." 

Tennyson, in his "Talking Oak," alludes to the oaks 
of Dodona in these lines : 

"And I will work in prose and rhyme, 

And praise thee more in both 
Than bard has honored beech or lime, 

Or that Thessalian growth 
In which the swarthy ring-dove sat 

And mystic sentence spoke;" etc. 

Byron alludes to the oracle of. Delphi where, speaking 
of Rousseau, whose writings he conceives did much to 
bring on the French revolution, he says : 

"For then he was inspired, and from him came. 
As from the Pythian's mystic cave of yore, 
Those oracles which set the world in flame, 
Nor ceased to burn till kingdoms were no more." 



CHAPTER XXXV 

/ 

ORIGIN OF MYTHOLOGY STATUES OF GODS AND GODDESSES 

POETS OF MYTHOLOGY 

ORIGIN OF MYTHOLOGY 

Having reached the close of our series of stories of 
Pagan mythology, an inquiry suggests itself. "Whence 
came these stories? Have they a foundation in truth, 
or are they simply dreams of the imagination?" Phi- 
losophers have suggested various theories on the sub- 



ORIGIN OF MYTHOLOGY 301 

ject; and 1. The Scriptural theory; according to which 
all mythological legends are derived from the narratives 
of Scripture, though the real facts have been disguised 
and altered. Thus Deucalion is only another name for 
Noah, Hercules for Samson, Arion for Jonah, etc. Sir 
Walter Raleigh, in his "History of the World," says, 
"Jubal, Tubal, and Tubal-Cain were Mercury, Vulcan, 
and Apoll o^ inventors of Pasturage, Smithing, and Mu- 
sic. TheDragon which kept the golden apples was the 
serpent that beguiled Eve. Nimrod's tower was the 
attempt of the Giants against Heaven." There are doubt- 
less many curious coincidences like these, but the theory 
cannot without extravagance be pushed so far as to ac- 
count' for any great proportion of the stories. 

2. The Historical theory; according to which all the 
persons mentioned in mythology were once real human 
beings, and the legends and fabulous traditions relating 
to them are merely the additions and embellishments of 
later times. Thus the story of ^olus, the king and god 
of the winds, is supposed to have risen from the fact 
that ^olus v^as the ruler of some islands in the Tyrrhe- 
nian Sea, where he reigned as a just and pious king, 
and taught the natives the use of sails for ships, and 
how to tell from the signs of the atmosphere the changes 
of the weather and the winds. Cadmus, who, the legend 
says, sowed the earth with dragon's teeth, from which 
sprang a crop of armed men, was in fact an emigrant 
from Phoenicia, and brought with him into Greece the 
knowledge of the letters of the alphabet, which he taught 
to the natives. From these rudiments of learning 
sprung civilization, which the poets hav always been 
prone to describe as a deterioration of man's first estate, 
the Golden Age of innocence and simplicity. 

3. The Allegorical theory supposes that all the myths 
of the ancients were allegorical and symbolical, and con- 
tained some moral, religious, or philosophical truth or 
historical fact, under the form of an allegory, but came 
in process of time to be understood literally. Thus Sat- 
urn, who devours his own children, is the same power 
whom the Greeks called Cronos (Time), which may 
truly be said to destroy whatever it has brought into 



302 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

existence. The story of lo is interpreted in a similar 
manner. lo is the moon, and Argus the starry sky, 
which, as it were, keeps sleepless watch over her. The 
fabulous wanderings of lo represent the continual rev- 
olutions of the moon, which also suggested to Milton 
the same idea. 

"To behold the wandering moon 
Riding near her highest noon, 
Like one that had been led astray 
In the heaven's wide, pathless way." 

// Penseroso. 

4. The Physical theory; according to which the ele- 
ments of air, fire, and water were originally the objects 
of religious adoration, and the principal deities were 
personifications of the powers of nature. The tran- 
sition was easy from a personification of the elements 
to the notion of supernatural beings presiding over and 
governing the different objects of nature. The Greeks, 
whose imagination was lively, peopled all nature with 
invisible beings, and supposed that every object, from 
the sun and sea to the smallest fountain and rivulet, was 
under the care of some particular divinity. Words- 
v/orth, in his "Excursion," has beautifully developed 
this view of Grecian mythology: 

"In that fair clime the lonely herdsman, stretched 
On the soft grass through half a summer's day, 
With music lulled his indolent repose ; 
And, in some fit of weariness, if he. 
When his own breath was silent, chanced to hear 
A distant strain far sweeter than the sounds 
Which his poor skill could make, kis fancy fetched 
Even from the blazing chariot of' the Sun 
A beardless youth who touched a golden lute, 
And filled the illumined groves with ravishment. 
The mighty hunter, lifting up his eyes 
Toward the crescent Moon, with grateful heart 
Called on the lovely Wanderer who bestowed 
That timely light to share his joyous sport; 
And hence a beaming goddess with her nymphs 
Across the lawn and through the darksome grove 
(Not unaccompanied with tuneful notes 
By echo multiplied from rock or cave) - 
Swept in the storm of chase, as moon and stars 



THE OLYMPIAN JUPITER 303 

Glance rapidly along the clouded heaven 

When winds are blowing strong. The Traveller slaked 

His thirst from rill or gushing fount, and thanked 

The Naiad. Sunbeams upon distant hills 

Gliding apace with shadows in their train, 

Might with small help from fancy, be transformed 

Into fleet Oreads sporting visibly. 

The Zephyrs, fanning, as they passed, their wings. 

Lacked not for love fair objects whom they wooed 

With gentle whisper. W'ithered boughs grotesque. 

Stripped of their leaves and twigs by hoary age, 

From depth of shaggy covert peeping forth 

In the low vale, or on steep mountain side; 

And sometimes intermixed with stirring horns 

Of the live deer, or goat's depending beard; 

These were the lurking Satyrs, a vild brood 

Of gamesome deities; or Pan himself, 

That simple shepherd's awe-inspiring god." 

All the theories which have been mentioned are true 
to a certain extent. It would therefore be more cor- 
rect to say that the mythology of a nation has sprung 
from all these sources combined than from any one in 
particular. We may add also that there are many 
myths which have arisen from the desire of man to ac- 
count for those, natural phenomena which he cannot 
tinderstand ; and not a few have had their rise from a 
similar desire of giving a reason for the names of places 
and persons. 

STATUES OF THE GODS 

To adequately represent to the eye the ideas intended 
to be conveyed to the mind under the several names of 
deities was a task which called into exercise the high- 
est powers of genius and art. Of the many attempts 
four have been most celebrated, the first two known to 
us only by the descriptions of the ancients, the others 
still extant and the acknowledged masterpieces of the 
sculptor's art. 

THE OLYMPIAN JUPITER 

The statue of the Olympian Jupiter by Phidias was 
considered the highest achievement of this department 
of (Irecian art. It was of colossal dimensions, and was 



304 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

what the ancients called "chryselephantine ;" that is, 
composed of ivory and gold; the parts representing flesh 
being of ivory laid on a core of wood or stone, while 
the drapery and other ornaments were of gold. The 
height of the figure was forty feet, on a pedestal twelve 
feet high. The god was represented seated on his 
throne. His brows were crowned with a wreath of 
olive, and he held in his right hand a sceptre, and in 
his left a statue of Victory. The throne was of cedar, 
adorned with gold and precious stones. 

The idea which the artist essayed to embody was that 
of the supreme deity of the Hellenic (Grecian) nation, 
enthroned as a conqueror, in perfect majesty and re- 
pose, and ruling with a nod the subject world. Phidias 
avowed that he took his idea from the representation 
which Homer gives in the first book of the "Iliad," in 
the passage thus translated by Pope : 

"He spoke and awful bends his sable brows, 
Shakes his 'mbrosial curls and gives the nod, 
The stamp of fate and sanction of the god. 
High heaven with reverence the dread signal took, 
And all Olympus to the centre shook." ^ 

THE MINERVA OF THE PARTHENON 

This was also the work of Phidias. It stood in thq 
Parthenon, or temple of Minerva at Athens. The god- 
dess was represented standing. In one hand she held a 
spear, in the other a statue of Victory. Her helmet, 
highly decorated, was surmounted by a Sphinx. The 
statue was forty feet in height, and, like the Jupiter, 
composed of ivory and gold. The eyes were of marble, 
and probably painted to represent xhe iris and pupil. 

* Cowper's version is less elegant, but truer to the original: 

"He ceased, and under his dark brows the nod 
Vouchsafed of confirmation. All around 
The sovereign's everlasting head his curls 
Ambrosial shook, and the huge mountain reeled." 

It may interest our readers to see how this passage appears in another 
famous version, that which was issued under the name of Tickell, con- 
temporaneously with Pope's, and which, being by many attributed to 
Addison, led to the quarrel which ensued between Addison and Pope: 

"This said, his kingly brow the sire inclined; 
The large black curls fell awful from, behind. 
Thick shadowing the stern forehead of the god; 
Olympus trembled at the almighty nod." 



I 



THE VENUS DE' MEDICI 305 

The Parthenon, in which this statue stood, was also 
constructed under the direction and superintendence of 
Phidias. Its exterior was enriched with sculptures, 
many of them from the hand of Phidias. The Elgin 
marbles, now in the British Museum, are a part of 
them. 

Both the Jupiter and Minerva of Phidias are lost, 
but there is good ground to believe that we have, in 
several extant statues and busts, the artist's concep- 
tions of the countenances of both. They are character- 
ized by grave and dignified beauty, and freedom from 
any transient expression, which in the language of art 
is called repose. 

THE VENUS DE' MEDICI 

The Venus of the Medici is so called from its hav- 
ing been in the possession of the princes of that name 
in Rome when it first attracted attention, about two 
hundred years ago. An inscription on the base records 
it to be the work of Cleomenes, an Athenian sculptor 
of 200 B.C., but the authenticity of the inscription is 
doubtful. There is a story that the artist was employed 
by public authority to make a statue exhibiting the per- 
fection of female beauty, and to aid him in his task the 
most perfect forms the city could supply were furnished 
him for models. It is this which Thomson alludes to 
in his "Summer" : 

"So stands the statue that enchants the world; 
So bending tries to veil the matchless boast, 
The mingled beauties of exulting Greece." 

Byron also alludes to this statue. Speaking of the 
Florence Museum, he says : 

"There, too, the goddess loves in stone, and fills 
The air around with beauty;" etc. 

And in the next stanza, 

"Blood, pulse, and breast confirm the Dardan shepherd's prize." 

See this last allusion explained in Chapter XXVII. 



306 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



THE APOLLO BELVEDERE 

The most highly esteemed of all the remains of an- 
cient sculpture is the statue of Apollo, called the Belve- 
dere, from the name of the apartment of the Pope's 
palace at Rome in which it was placed. The artist 
is unknown. It is supposed to be a work of Roman 
art, of about the first century of our era. It is a stand- 
ing figure, in marble, more than seven feet high, naked 
except for the cloak which is fastened around the neck 
and hangs over the extended left arm. It is supposed 
to represent the god in the moment when he has shot 
the arrow to destroy the monster Python. (See Chapter 
III.) The victorious divinity is in the act of step- 
ping forward. The left arm, which seems to have held 
the bow, is outstretched, and the head is turned in the 
same direction. In attitude and proportion the graceful 
majesty of the figure is unsurpassed. The effect is com- 
pleted by the countenance, where on the perfection of 
youthful godlike beauty there dwells the consciousness 
of triumphant power. 

THE DIANA A LA BICHE 

The Diana of the Hind, in the palace of the Louvre, 
may be considered the counterpart to the Apollo Belve- 
dere. The attitude much resembles that of the Apollo, 
the sizes correspond and also the style of execution. 
It is a work of the highest order, though by no means 
equal to the Apollo. The attitude is that of hurried and 
eager motion, the face that of a huntress in the ex- 
citement of the chase. The left hand is extended over 
the forehead of the Hind, which runs by her side, the 
right arm reaches backward over the shoulder to draw 
an arrow from the quiver. 

THE POETS OF MYTHOLOGY 

Homer, from whose poems of the "Iliad" and "Odys- 
sey" we have taken the chief part of our chapters of 
the Trojan war and the return of the Grecians, is 



VIRGIL 307 

almost as mythical a personage as the heroes he cele- 
brates. The traditionary story is that he was a wander- 
ing minstrel, blind and old, who travelled from place to 
place, singing his lays to the music of his harp, in the 
courts of princes or the cottages of peasants, and de- 
pendent upon the voluntary offerings of his hearers for 
support. Byron calls him ''The blind old man of Scio's 
rocky isle," and a well-known epigram, alluding to the 
uncertaint}' of the fact of his birthplace, says : 

"Seven wealthy towns contend for Homer dead, 
Through which the living Homer begged his bread.'* 

These seven were Smyrna, Scio, Rhodes, Colophon, 
Salamis, Argos, and Athens. 

Modern scholars have doubted whether the Homeric 
poems are the work of any single mind. This arises 
from the difficulty of believing that poems of such 
length could have been committed to writing at so early 
an age as that usually assigned to these, an age earlier 
than the date of any remaining inscriptions or coins, 
and when no materials capable of containing such long 
productions were yet introduced into use. On the other 
hand it is asked how poems of such length could have 
been handed down from age to age by means of the 
memory alone. This is answered by the statement that 
there was a professional body of men, called Rhap- 
sodists, who recited the poems of others, and whose 
business it was to commit to memory and rehearse for 
pay the national and patriotic legends. 

The prevailing opinion of the learned, at this time, 
seems to be that the framework and much of the struc- 
ture of the poems belong to Homer, but that there are 
numerous interpolations and additions by other hands. 

The date assigned to Homer, on the authority of 
Herodotus, is 850 B.C. 

VIRGIL 

Virgil, called also by his surname, Maro. from whose 
poem of the "y^,neid" we have taken the story of /Eneas, 
was one of the great poets who made the reign of the 



308 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Roman emperor Augustus so celebrated, under the name 
of the Augustan age. Virgil was born in Mantua in the 
year 70 B.C. His great poem is ranked next to those 
of Homer, in the highest class of poetical composition, 
the Epic. Virgil is far inferior to Homer in originality 
and invention, but superior to him in correctness and 
elegance. To critics of English lineage Milton alone 
of modern poets seems worthy to be classed with these 
illustrious ancients. His poem of "Paradise Lost," from 
which we have borrowed so many illustrations, is in many 
respects equal, in some superior, to either of the great 
works of antiquity. The following epigram of Dryd.n 
characterizes the three poets with as much truth as it is 
usual to find in such pointed criticism: 

"On Milton 

"Three poets in three different ages born, 
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn. 
The first in loftiness of soul surpassed, 
The next in majesty, in both the last. 
The force of nature could no further go; 
To make a third she joined the other two." 

From Cowper's "Table Talk" : 

"Ages elapsed ere Homer^s lamp appeared, 
And ages ere the Mantuan swan was heard. 
To carry nature lengths unknown before. 
To give a Milton birth, asked ages more. 
Thus genius rose and set at ordered times, 
And shot a dayspring into distant climes. 
Ennobling every region that he chose; 
He sunk in Greece, in Italy he rose, 
And, tedious years of Gothic darl^ess past, 
Emerged all splendor in our isle at last. 
Thus lovely Halcyons dive into the main. 
Then show far off their shining plumes again." 

Ovid, 

often alluded to in poetry by his other name of Naso, 
was born in the year 43 B.C. He was educated for 
public life and held some offices of considerable dignity, 
but poetry was his delight, and he early resolved to de- 
vote himself to it. He accordingly sought the societ) 



OVID 309 

of the contemporary poets, and was acquainted with 
Horace and saw Virgil, though the latter died when 
Ovid was yet too young and undistinguished to have 
formed his acquaintance. Ovid spent an easy life at 
Rome in the enjoyment of a competent income. He was 
intimate with the family of Augustus, the emperor, and 
it is supposed that some serious offence given to some 
member of that family was the cause of an event which 
reversed the poet's happy circumstances and clouded all 
the latter portion of his life. At the age of fifty he 
was banished from Rome, and ordered to betake him- 
self to Tomi, on the borders of the Black Sea. Here, 
among the barbarous people and in a severe climate, the 
poet, who had been accustomed to all the pleasures of a 
luxurious capital and the society of his most distin- 
guished contemporaries, spent the last ten years of his 
life, worn out with grief and anxiety. His only con- 
solation in exile was to address his wife and absent 
friends, and his letters were all poetical. Though these 
poems (the "Trista" and "Letters from Pontus'") have 
no other topic than the poet's sorrows, his exquisite 
taste and fruitful invention have redeemed them from 
the charge of being tedious, and they are read with 
pleasure and even with sympathy. 

The two great works of Ovid are his "Metamor- 
phoses" and his "Fasti." They are both mythological 
poems, and from the former we have taken most of our 
stories of Grecian and Roman mythology. A late writer 
thus characterizes these poems : 

"The rich mythology of Greece furnished Ovid, as 
it may still furnish the poet, the painter, and the sculp- 
"tor, with materials for his art. With exquisite taste, 
simplicity, and pathos he has narrated the fabulous tra- 
ditions of early ages, and given to them that appearance 
of reality which only a master hand could impart. His 
pictures of nature are striking and true; he selects with 
care that which is appropriate; he rejects the superflu- 
ous; and when he has completed his work, it is neither 
defective nor redundant. The 'Metamorphoses' are read 
with pleasure by youth, and are re-read in more ad- 
vanced age with still greater delight. The poet ventured 



310 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

to predict that his poem would survive him, and be read 
wherever the Roman name was known." 

The prediction above alluded to is contained in the 
closing lines of the "Metamorphoses," of which we give 
a literal translation below : 

"And now I close my work, which not the ire 
Of Jove, nor tooth of time, nor sword, nor fire 
Shall bring to nought. Come when it will that day 
Which o'er the body, not the mind, has sway, 
And snatch the remnant of my life away, 
My better part above the stars shall soar, 
And my renown endure forevermore. 
Where'er the Roman arms and arts shall spread, 
There by the people shall my book be read; 
And, if aught true in poet's visions be, 
My name and fame h^ve immortality." 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

MODERN MONSTERS THE PHCENIX BASILISK UNICORN 

SALAMANDER 

MODERN MONSTERS 

There is a set of imaginary beings which seem to 
have been the successors of the "Gorgons, Hydras, and 
Chimeras dire" of the old superstitions, and, having no 
connection with the false gods of Paganism, to have 
continued to enjoy an existence in the popular belief 
after Paganism was superseded by Christianity. They 
are mentioned perhaps by the classical writers, but their 
chief popularity and currency seem to have been in more 
modern times. We seek our accoimts of them not so 
much in the poetry of the ancients as in the old natural 
history books and narrations of travellers. The accounts 
which we are about to give are taken chiefly from the 
Penny Cyclopedia. 

THE PHCENIX 

Ovid tells the story of the Phoenix as follows : "Most 
beings spring from other individuals ; but there is a 
certain kind which reproduces itself. The Assyrians 



THE PHCENIX 311* 

call it the Phoenix. It does not live on fruit or flowers, 
but on frankincense and odoriferous gums. When it 
has lived five hundred years, it builds itself a nest in 
the branches of an oak, or on the top of a palm tree. 
In this it collects cinnamon, and spikenard, and myrrh, 
and of these materials builds a pile on which it de- 
posits itself, and dying, breathes out its last breath 
amidst odors. From the body of the parent bird, a 
young Phoenix issues forth, destined to live as long a 
life as its predecessor. When this has grown up and 
gained sufficient strength, it lifts its nest from the tree 
(its own cradle and its parent's sepulchre), and carries 
it to the city of Heliopolis in Egypt, and deposits it in 
the temple of the Sun." 

Such is the account given by a poet. Now let us see 
that of a philosophic historian. Tacitus says, "In the 
consulship of Paulus Fabius (A.D. 34) the miraculous 
bird known to the world by the name of the Phoenix, 
after disappearing for a series of ages, revisited Egypt. 
It was attended in its flight by a group of various birds, 
all attracted by the novelty, and gazing with wonder at 
so beautiful an appearance." He then gives an account 
of the bird, not varying materially from the preceding, 
but adding some details. "The first care of the young 
Mrd as soon as fledged, and able to trust to his wings, 
IS to perform the obsequies of his father. But this duty 
is not undertaken rashly. He collects a quantity of 
myrrh, and to try his strength makes frequent excur- 
sions with a load on his back. When he has gained suf- 
ficient confidence in his own vigor, he takes up the body 
of his father and flies with it to the altar of the Sun, 
where he leaves it to be consumed in flames of fra- 
grance." Other writers add a few particulars. The 
myrrh is compacted in the form of an egg, in which the 
dead Phoenix is enclosed. . From the mouldering flesh 
of the dead bird a worm springs, and this worm, when 
grown large, is transformed into a bird. Herodotus 
describes the bird, though he says. "I have not seen it 
myself, except in a picture. Part of his plumage is 
gold-colored, and part crimson; and he is for the most 
part very much like an eagle in outline and bulk." 



312 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

The first writer who disclaimed a beHef in the ex- 
istence of the Phoenix was Sir Thomas Browne, in his 
"Vulgar Errors," published in 1646. He was replied 
to a few years later by Alexander Ross, who says, in 
answer to the objection of the Phoenix so seldom making 
his appearance, "His instinct teaches him to keep out 
of the way of the tyrant of the creation, mati, for if he 
were to be got at, some wealthy glutton would surely 
devour him, though there were no more in the world." 

Dryden in one of his early poems has this allusion to 
the Phoenix: 

"So when the new-born Phoenix first is seen, 
Her feathered subjects all adore their queen. 
And while she makes her progress through the East, 
From every grove her numerous train's increased; 
Each poet of the air her glory sings, 
And round him the pleased audience clap their wings." 

Milton, in "Paradise Lost," Book V., compares the 
angel Raphael descending to earth to a Phoenix : 

". . . Down thither, prone in flight 
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky 
Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing, 
Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan 
Winnows the buxom air ; till within soar 
Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems 
A Phoenix, gazed by all; as that sole bird 
When, to enshrine his relics in the sun's 
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies." 

THE COCKATRICE, OR BASILISK 

This animal was called the king of the serpents. In 
confirmation of his royalty, he was said to be endowed 
with a crest, or comb upon the head, constituting a 
crown. He was supposed to be produced from the egg 
of a cock hatched under toads or serpents. There were 
several species of this animal. One species burned up 
whatever they approached ; a second were a kind of 
wandering Medusa's heads, and their look caused an in- 
stant horror which was immediately followed by death. 
In Shakspeare's play of "Richard the Third," Lady 



THE COCKATRICE, OR BASILISK 313 

Anne, in answer to Richard's compliment on her eyes, 
says, "Would they were basilisk's, to strike thee 
dead !" _ 

The basilisks were called kings of serpents because 
all other serpents and snakes, behaving like good sub- 
jects, and wisely not wishing to be burned up or struck 
dead, fled the moment they heard the distant hiss of 
their king, although they might be in full feed upon 
the most delicious prey, leaving the sole enjoyment of 
the banquet to the royal monster. 

The Roman naturalist Pliny thus describes him: "He 
does not impel his body, like other serpents, by a mul- 
tiplied flexion, but advances lofty and upright. He 
kills the shrubs, not only by contact, but by breathing 
on them, and splits the rocks, such power of evil is there 
in him." It was formerly believed that if killed by a 
spear from on horseback the power of the poison con- 
ducted through the weapon killed not only the rider, 
but the horse also. To this Lucan alludes in these 
lines : 

"What though the Moor the basilisk hath slain. 
And pinned him lifeless to the sandy plain. 
Up through the spear the subtle venom flies, 
The hand imbibes it, and the victor dies." 

Such a prodigy was not likely to be passed over in 
the legends of the saints. Accordingly we find it re- 
corded that a certain holy man, going to a fountain in 
the desert, suddenly beheld a basilisk. He immediately 
raised his eyes to heaven, and with a pious appeal to 
the Deity laid the monster dead at his feet. 

These wonderful powers of the basilisk are attested 
by a host of learned persons, such as Galen, Avicenna, 
Scaliger, and others. Occasionally one would demur to 
some part of the tale while he admitted the rest. Jon- 
ston, a learned physician, sagely remarks, "I would 
scarcely believe that it kills with its look, for who could 
have seen it and lived to tell the story?" Tlie worthy 
sage was not aware that those who went to hunt the 
basilisk of this sort took with them a mirror, which re- 
flected back the deadly glare upon its author, and by a 



314 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

kind of poetical justice slew the basilisk with his own 
weapon. 

But what was to attack this terrible and unapproach- 
able monster? There is an old saying that "everything 
has its enemy" and the cockatrice quailed before the 
weasel. The basilisk might look daggers, the weasel 
cared not, but advanced boldly to the conflict. When 
bitten, the weasel retired for a moment to eat some 
rue, which was the only plant the basilisks could not 
wither, returned with renewed strength and soundness 
to the charge, and never left the enemy till he was 
stretched dead on the plain. The monster, too, as if 
conscious of the irregular way in which he came into 
the world, was supposed to have a great antipathy to a 
cock; and well he might, for as soon as he heard the 
cock crow he expired. 

The basilisk was of some use after death. Thus we 
read that its carcass was suspended in the temple of 
Apollo, and in private houses, as a sovereign remedy 
against spiders, and that it was also hung up in the 
temple of Diana, for which reason no swallow ever 
dared enter the sacred place. 

The reader will, we apprehend, by this time have had 
enough of absurdities, but still we can imagine his anxi- 
ety to know what a cockatrice was like. The follow- 
ing is from Aldrovandus, a celebrated naturalist of the 
sixteenth century, whose work on natural history, in 
thirteen folio volumes, contains with much that is valu- 
able a large proportion of fables and inutilities. In 
particular he is so ample on the subject of the cock and 
the bull that from his practice, all rambling, gossiping 
tales of doubtful credibility are galled cock and hull 
stories. Aldrovandus, however, deserves our respect and 
esteem as the founder of a botanic garden, and as a 
pioneer in the now prevalent custom of making scientific 
collections for purposes of investigation and research. 

Shelley, in his "Ode to Naples," full of the enthu- 
siasm excited by the intelligence of the proclamation 
of a Constitutional Government at Naples, in 1820, thus 
uses an allusion to the basilisk : 



I 



THE UNICORN 315 

"What though Cimmerian anarchs dare blaspheme 
Freedom and thee? a new Actason's error 
Shall theirs have been, devoured by their own hounds! 

Be. thou like the imperial basilisk, 
Killing thy foe with unapparent wounds ! 

Gaze on oppression, till at that dread risk. 
Aghast she pass from the earth's disk. 
Fear not, but gaze, for freemen mightier grow, 
And slaves more feeble, gazing on their foe." 



THE UNICORN 

Pliny, the Roman naturalist, out of whose account 
of the unicorn most of the modern unicorns have been 
described and figured, records it as "a very ferocious 
beast, similar in the rest of its body to a horse, with 
the head of a deer, the feet of an elephant, the tail of 
a boar, a deep, bellowing voice, and a single black horn, 
two cubits in length, standing out in the middle of its 
forehead." He adds that "it cannot be taken alive;" 
and some such excuse may have been necessary in those 
days for not producing the living animal upon the arena 
of the amphitheatre. 

The unicorn seems to have been a sad puzzle to the 
hunters, who hardly knew how to come at so valuable 
a piece of game. Some described the horn as movable 
at the will of the animal, a kind of small sword, in short, 
with which no hunter who was not exceedingly cunning 
in fence could have a chance. Others maintained that 
all the animal's strength lay in its horn, and that when 
hard pressed in pursuit, it would throw itself from the 
pinnacle of the highest rocks horn foremost, so as to 
pitch upon it, and then quietly march off not a whit 
the worse for its fall. 

But it seems they found out how to circumvent the 
poor unicorn at last. They discovered that it was a 
great lover of purity and innocence, so they took the 
field with a young virgm, who was placed in the un- 
suspecting admirer's way. When the unicorn spied her, 
he approached with all reverence, couched beside her, 
and laying his head in her lap, fell asleep. The treach- 
erous virgin then gave a signal, and the hunters made 
in and captured the simple beast. 



316 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

IMcdern zoologists, disgusted as they well may be 
Avith such fables as these, disbelieve generally the ex- 
istence of the unicorn. Yet there are animals bearing on 
their heads a bony protuberance more or less like a horn, 
which may have given rise to the story. The rhinoceros 
horn, as it is called, is such a protuberance, though it 
does not exceed a few inches in height, and is far from 
agreeing with the descriptions of the horn of the uni- 
corn. The nearest approach to a horn in the middle 
of the forehead is exhibited in the bony protuberance 
on the forehead of the giraffe; but this also is short 
and blunt, and is not the only horn of the animal, but 
a third horn, standing in front of the two others. In 
fine, though it would be presumptuous to deny the ex- 
istence of a one-horned quadruped other than the rhi- 
noceros, it may be safely stated that the insertion of a 
long and solid horn in the living forehead of a horse- 
like or deer-like animal is as near an impossibility as 
anything can be. 

THE SALAMANDER 

The following is from the "Life of Benvenuto Cel- 
lini," an Italian artist of the sixteenth century, written 
by himself: "When I was about five years of age, my 
father, happening to be in a little room in which they 
had been washing, and where there was a good fire of 
oak burning, looked into the flames and saw a little 
animal resembling a lizard, which could live in the 
hottest part of that element. Instantly perceiving what 
it was, he called for my sister and ma and after he had 
shown us the creature, he gave me a box on the ear. I 
fell a-crying, while he, soothing me with caresses, spoke 
these words : 'My dear child, I do not give you that blow 
for aaiy fault you have committed, but that you may rec- 
ollect that the little creature you see in the fire is a 
salamander; such a one as never was beheld before to 
my knowledge.' So saying he embraced me, and gave 
me some money." 

It seems unreasonable to doubt a story of which 
Signor Cellini was both an eye and ear witness. Add 



THE SALAMANDER 317 

to which the authority of numerous sage philosophers, 
at the head of whom are Aristotle and Pliny, affirms 
this power of the salamander. According to them, the 
animal not only resists fire, but extinguishes it, and when 
he sees the flame charges it as an enemy which he well 
knows how to vanquish. 

That the skin of an animal which could resist the 
action of fire should be considered proof against that 
element is not to be wondered at. VVe accordingly find 
that a cloth made of the skin of salamanders (for there 
really is such an animal, a kind of lizard) was incom- 
bustible, and very valuable for wrapping up such articles 
as were too precious to be intrusted to any other en- 
velopes. These fire-proof cloths were actually produced, 
said to be made of salamander's wool, though the know- 
ing ones detected that the substance of which they 
were composed was asbestos, a mineral, which is in 
fine filaments capable of being woven into a flexible 
cloth. 

The foundation of the above fables is supposed to be 
the fact that the salamander really does secrete from 
the pores of his body a milky juice, which when he is 
irritated is produced in considerable quantity, and would 
doubtless, for a few moments, defend the body from 
fire. Then it is a hibernating animal, and in winter re- 
tires to some hollow tree or other cavity, where it coils 
itself up and remains in a torpid state till the spring 
again calls it forth. It may therefore sometimes be 
carried with the fuel to the fire, and wake up only time 
enough to put forth all its faculties for its defence. 
Its viscous juice would do good ser\'ice, and all who 
profess to have seen it, acknowledge that it got out of 
the fire as fast as its legs could carry it; indeed, too 
fast for them ever to make prize of one, except in one 
instance, and in that one the animal's feet and some 
parts of its body were badly burned. 

Dr. Young, in the "Night Thoughts," with more 
quaintness than good taste, compares the sceptic who 
can remain unmoved in the contemplation of the starry 
heavens to a salamander unwarmed in the fire: 



31? STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

"An undevout astronomer is mad ! 

"O, what a genius must inform the skies ! 
And is Lorenzo's salamander-heart, 
Cold and untouched amid these sacred fires?" 



CHAPTER XXXVn 

EASTERN MYTHOLOGY ZOROASTER HINDU MYTHOLOGY 

CASTES BUDDHA GRAND LAMA 

ZOROASTER 

Our knowledge of the religion of the ancient Persians 
is principally derived from the Zendavesta, or sacred 
books of that people. Zoroaster was the founder of 
their religion, or rather the reformer of the religion 
which preceded him. The time when he lived is doubt- 
ful, but it is certain that his system became the dom- 
inant religion of Western Asia from the time of Cyrus 
(550 B.C.) to the conquest of Persia by Alexander the 
Great. Under the Macedonian monarchy the doctrines 
of Zoroaster appear to have been' considerably cor- 
rupted by the introduction of foreign opinions, but they 
afterwards recovered their ascendency. 

Zoroaster taught the existence of a supreme being, 
who created two other mighty beings and imparted to 
them as much of his own nature as seemed good to him. 
Of these, Ormuzd (called by the Greeks Oromasdes) 
remained faithful to his creator, and was regarded as 
the source of all good, while Ahriman (Arimanes) 
rebelled, and became the author of all evil upon the 
earth. Ormuzd created man and supplied him with all 
the materials of happiness ; but Ahriman marred this 
happiness by introducing evil into the world, and creat- 
ing savage beasts and poisonous reptiles and plants. In 
consequence of this, evil and good are now mingled to- 
gether in every part of the world, and the followers of 
good and evil the adherents of Ormuzd and Ahriman 
carry on incessant war. But this state of things will not 



ZOROASTER 319 

last forever. The time will come when the adherents of 
Ormuzd shall everywhere be victorious, and Ahriman 
and his followers be consigned to darkness forever. 

The religious rites of the ancient Persians were ex- 
ceedingly simple. They used neither temples, altars, nor 
statues, and performed their sacrifices on the tops of 
mountains. They adored fire, light, and the sun as em- 
blems of Ormuzd, the source of all light and purity, but 
did not regard them as independent deities. The re- 
ligious rites and ceremonies were regulated by the 
priests, who were called Magi. The learning of the 
Magi was connected with astrology and enchantment, 
in which they were so celebrated that their name was 
applied to all orders of magicians and enchanters. 

Wordsworth thus alludes to the worship of the Per- 
sians : 

". . . the Persian, zealous to reject 
Altar and Image, and the inclusive walls 
And roofs of temples built by human hands, 
The loftiest heights ascending, from their tops, 
With myrtle-wreathed Tiara on his brows, 
Presented sacrifice to Moon and Stars, 
And to the Winds and mother Elements, 
And the whole circle of the Heavens, for him 
A sensitive existence and a God." 

Excursion, Book IV. 

In "Childe Harold" Byron speaks thus of the Persian 
worship : 

"Not vainly did the early Persian make 
His altar the high places and the peak 
Of earth-o'er-gazing mountains, and thus take 
A fit and unwalled temple, there to seek 
The Spirit, in whose honor shrines are weak, 
Upreared of human hands. Come and compare 
Columns and idol-dwellings, Goth or Greek, 
With Nature's realms of worship, earth and air. 
Nor nx on fond abodes to circumscribe thy prayer." 

III., 91. 

The religion of Zoroaster continued to flourish even 
after the introduction of Christianity, and in the third 
century was the dominant faith of the East, till the rise 
of the Mahometan power and the conquest of Persia by 



320 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

the Arabs in the seventh century, who compelled the 
greater number of the Persians to renounce their ancient 
faith. Those who refused to abandon the religion of 
their ancestors fled to the deserts of Kerman and to 
Hindustan^ where they still exist under the name of 
Parsees, a name derived from Pars, the ancient name of 
Persia. The Arabs call them Guebers, from an Arabic 
word signifying unbelievers. At Bombay the Parsees 
are at this day a very active, intelligent, and wealthy 
class. For purity of life, honesty, and conciliatory man- 
ners, they are favorably distinguished. They have 
numerous temples to Fire, which they adore as the sym- 
bol of the divinity. 

The Persian religion makes the subject of the finest 
tale in Moore's "Lalla Rookh," the "Fire Worshippers." 
The Gueber chief says, 

"Yes ! I am of that impious race, 

Those slaves of Fire, that morn and even 
Hail their creator's dwelHng-place 

Among the hving hghts of heaven; 
Yes ! I am of that outcast crew 
To Iran and to vengeance true, 
Who curse the hour your Arabs came 
To desecrate our shrines of flame, 
And swear before God's burning eye. 
To break our country's chains or die." 

HINDU MYTHOLOGY 

The religion of the Hindus is professedly founded on 
the Vedas. To these books of their scripture they at- 
tach the greatest sanctity, and state^ that Brahma him- 
self composed them at the creation. But the present 
arrangement of the Vedas is attributed to the sage 
Vyasa, about five thousand years ago. 

The Vedas undoubtedly teach the belief of one su- 
preme God. The name of this deity is Brahma. His 
attributes are represented by the three personified powers 
of creation, preservation, and destruction, which under 
the respective names of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva form 
the Trimtirti or triad of principal Hindu gods. Of the 
inferior gods the most important are: 1. Indra, the god 



VISHNU 321 

-of heaven, of thunder, lightning, storm, and rain,; 2. 
Agni, the god of fire; 3. Yama, the god of the infernal 
regions; 4. Surya, the god of the sun. 

Brahma is the creator of the universe, and the source 
from which all the individual deities have sprung, and 
into which all will ultimately be absorbed. "As milk 
changes to curd, and water to ice, so is Brahma vari- 
ously transformed and diversified, without aid of exterior 
means of any sort." The human soul, according to the 
Vedas, is a portion of the supreme ruler, as a spark is 
of the fire. 

VISHNU 

Vishnu occupies the second place in the triad of the 
Hindus, and is the personification of the preserving 
principle. To protect the world in various epochs of 
danger, Vishnu descended to the earth in different incar- 
nations, or bodily forms, which descents are called Ava- 
tars. They are very numerous, but ten are more partic- 
ularly specified. The first Avatar was as Matsya, the 
Fish, under v/hich form Vishnu preserved Manu, the 
ancestor of the human race, during a universal deluge. 
The second Avatar was in the form of a Tortoise, which 
form he assumed to support the earth when the gods 
were churning the sea for the beverage of immortality, 
Amrita. 

We may omit the other Avatars, which were of the 
same general character, that is, interpositions to protect 
the right or to punish wrong-doers, and come to the 
ninth, which is the most celebrated of the Avatars of 
Vishnu, in which he appeared in the human form of 
Krishna, an invincible warrior, who by his exploits re- 
lieved the earth from the tyrants who oppressed it. 

Buddha is by the followers of the Brahmanical religion 
regarded as a delusive incarnation of Vishnu, assumed 
by him in order to induce the Asuras, opponents of the 
gods, to abandon the sacred ordinances of the Vedas, by 
which means they lost their strength and supremacy. 

Kalki is the name of the terith Avatar, in which 
Vishnu will appear at the end of the present age of the 



322 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

world to destroy all vice and wickedness, and to restore 
mankind to virtue and purity. 



SIVA 

Siva is the third person of the Hindu triad. He is the 
personification of the destroying principle. Though the 
third name, he is, in respect to the number of his wor- 
shippers and the extension of his worship, before either 
of the others. In the Puranas (the scriptures of the 
modern Hindu religion) no allusion is made to the orig- 
inal power of this god as a destroyer; that power not 
being to be called into exercise till after the expiration of 
twelve millions of years, or when the universe will come 
to an end; and Mahadeva (another name for Siva) is 
rather the representative of regeneration than of de- 
struction. 

The worshippers of Vishnu and Siva form two sects, 
each of which proclaims the superiority of its favorite 
deity, denying the claims of the other, and Brahma, the 
creator, having finished his work, seems to be regarded 
as no longer active, and has now only one temple in 
India, while Mahadeva and Vishnu have many. The 
worshippers of Vishnu are generally distinguished by a 
greater tenderness for life, and consequent abstinence 
from animal food, and a worship less cruel than that of 
the followers of Siva. 

JUGGERNAUT 

Whether the worshippers of Juggernaut are to be 
reckoned among the followers of Vishnu or Siva, our 
authorities differ. The temple stands near the shore, 
about three hundred miles south-west of Calcutta. The 
idol is a carved block of wood, with a hideous face, 
painted black, and a distended blood-red mouth. On 
festival days the throne of the image is placed on a 
tower sixty feet high, moving on wheels. Six long ropes 
are attached to the tower, by which the people draw it 
along. The priests and their attendants stand round the 



CASTES 323 

throne on the tower, and occasionally turn to the wor- 
shippers with songs and gestures. While the tower 
moves along numbers of the devout worshippers throw 
themselves on the ground, in order to be crushed by the 
wheels, and the multitude shout in approbation of the 
act, as a pleasing sacrifice to the idol. Every year, par- 
ticularly at two great festivals in March and July, pil- 
grims flock in crowds to the temple. Not less than sev- 
enty or eighty thousand people are said to visit the place 
on these occasions, when all castes eat together. 

CASTES 

The division of the Hindus into classes or castes, 
with fixed occupations, existed from the earliest times. 
It is supposed by some to have been founded upon con- 
quest, the first three castes being composed of a foreign 
race, who subdued the natives of the country and re- 
duced them to an inferior caste. Others trace it to the 
fondness of perpetuating, by descent from father to son, 
certain offices or occupations. 

The Hindu tradition gives the following account of 
the origin of the various castes : At the creation Brahma 
resolved to give the earth inhabitants who should be 
direct emanations from his own body. Accordingly 
from his mouth came forth the eldest born, Brahma (the 
priest), to whom he confided the four Vedas ; from 
his right arm issued Shatriya (the warrior), and from 
his left, the warrior's wife. His thighs produced 
Vaissyas, male and female (agriculturists and traders), 
and lastly from his feet sprang Sudras (mechanics and 
laborers). 

The four sons of Brahma, so significantly brought 
into the world, became the fathers of the human race, 
and heads of their respective castes. They were com- 
manded to regard the four Vedas as containing all the 
rules of their faith, and all that was necessary to guide 
them in their religious ceremonies. They were also 
commanded to take rank in the order of their birth, the 
Brahmans uppermost, as having sprung from the head 
of Brahma. 



324 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

A strong line of demarcation is drawn between the 
first three castes and the Sudras. The former are al- 
lowed to receive instruction from the Vedas, which is 
not permitted to the Sudras. The Brahmans possess 
the privilege of teaching the Vedas, and were in former 
times in exclusive possession of aU'knowledge. Though 
the sovereign of the country was chosen from the Sha- 
triya class, also called Rajputs, the Brahmans possessed 
the real power, and were the royal counsellors, the 
judges and magistrates of the country; their persons 
and property were inviolable ; and though they commit- 
ted the greatest crimes, they could only be banished 
from the kingdom. They were to be treated by sov- 
ereigns with the greatest respect, for "a Brahman, 
whether learned or ignorant, is a powerful divinity." 

When the Brahman arrives at years of maturity it be- 
comes his duty to marry. He ought to be supported 
by the contributions of the rich, and not to be obliged to 
gain his subsistence by any laborious or productive occu- 
pation. But as all the Brahmans could not be main- 
tained by the working classes of the community, it was 
found necessary to allow them to engage in productive 
employments. 

We need say little of the two intermediate classes, 
whose rank and privileges may be readily inferred from 
their occupations. The Sudras or fourth class are 
bound to servile attendance on the higher classes, espe- 
cially the Brahmans, but they may follow mechanical 
occupations and practical arts, as painting and writing, 
or become traders or husbandmen. Consequently they 
sometimes grow rich, and it will also sometimes happen 
that Brahmans become poor. That^fact works its usual 
consequence, and rich Sudras sometimes employ poor^ 
Brahmans in menial occupations. 

There is another class lower even than the Sudras, 
for it is not one of the original pure classes, but springs 
from an unauthorized union of individuals of different 
castes. These are the Pariahs, who are employed in the 
lowest services and treated with the utmost severity. 
They are compelled to do what no one else can do with- 
out pollution. They are not only considered unclean. 



BUDDHA 325 

themselves, but they render unclean everything they 
touch. They are deprived of all civil rights, and stig- 
matized by particular laws regulating their mode of life, 
their houses, and their furniture. They are not allowed 
to visit the pagodas or temples of the other castes, but 
have their own pagodas and religious exercises. They 
are not suffered to enter the houses of the other castes; 
if it is done incautiously or from necessity, the place 
must be purified by religious ceremonies. They must 
not appear at public markets, and are confined to the 
use of particular wells, which they are obliged to sur- 
round with bones of animals, to warn others against 
using them. They dwell in miserable hovels, distant 
from cities and villages, and are under no restrictions in 
regard to food, which last is not a privilege, but a mark 
of ignominy, as if they were so degraded that nothing 
could pollute them. The three higher castes are prohib- 
ited entirely the use of flesh. The fourth is allowed to 
use all kinds except beef, but only the lowest caste is al- 
lowed every kind of food without restriction. 

BUDDHA 

Buddha, whom the Vedas represent as a delusive in- 
carnation of Vishnu, is said by his followers to have 
been a mortal sage, whose name was Gautama, called 
also by the complimentary epithets of Sakyasinha, the 
Lion, and Buddha, the Sage. 

By a comparison of the various epochs assigned to 
his birth, it is inferred that he lived about one thousand 
years before Christ. 

He was the son of a king; and when in conformity 
to the usage of the country he was, a few days after 
his birth, presented before the altar of a deity, the image 
is said to have inclined its head as a presage of the 
future greatness of the new-born prophet. The child 
soon developed faculties of the first order, and became 
equally distinguished by the uncommon beauty of his 
person. No sooner had he grown to years of maturity 
than he began to reflect deeply on the depravity and 
misery of mankind, and he conceived the idea of retiring 



326 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

from society and devoting himself to meditation. His 
father in vain opposed this design. Buddha escaped the 
vigilance of his guards, and having found a secure re- 
treat, lived for six years undisturbed in his devout con- 
templations. At the expiration of that period he came 
forward at Benares as a religious teacher. At first some 
who heard him doubted of the soundness of his mind; 
but his doctrines soon gained credit, and were propa- 
gated so rapidly that Buddha himself lived to see them 
spread all over India. He died at the age of eighty 
years. 

The Buddhists reject entirely the authority of the 
Vedas, and the religious observances prescribed in them 
and kept by the Hindus. They also reject the distinc- 
tion of castes, and prohibit all bloody sacrifices, and al- 
low animal food. Their priests are chosen from all 
classes; they are expected to procure their maintenance 
by perambulation and begging, and among other things 
it is their duty to endeavor to turn to some use things 
thrown aside as useless by others, and to discover the 
medicinal power of plants. But in Ceylon three orders 
of priests are recognized ; those of the highest order are 
usually men of high birth and learning, and are 
supported at the principal temples, most of which have 
been richly endowed by the former monarchs of the 
country. 

For several centuries after the appearance of Buddha, 
his sect seems to have been tolerated by the Brahmans, 
and Buddhism appears to have penetrated the peninsula 
of Hindustan in every direction, and to have been car- 
ried to Ceylon, and to the eastern p;eninsula. But after- 
wards it had to endure in India a long-continued persecu- 
tion, which ultimately had the effect of entirely abolish- 
ing it in the country where it had originated, but to 
scatter it widely over adjacent countries. Buddhism ap- 
pears to have been introduced into China about the year 
65 of our era. From China it was subsequently extended 
to Corea, Japan, and Java. 



PRESTER JOHN 327 



THE GRAND LAMA 

It is a doctrine alike of the Brahminical Hindus and 
of the Buddhist sect that the confinement of the human 
soul, an emanation of the divine spirit, in a human 
body, is a state of misery, and the consequence of 
frailties and sins committed during former existences. 
But they hold that some few individuals have appeared 
on this earth from time to time, not under the neces- 
sity of terrestrial existence, but who voluntarily de- 
scended to the earth to promote the welfare of man- 
kind. These individuals have gradually assumed the char- 
acter of reappearances of Buddha himself, in which 
capacity the line is continued till the present day, in the 
several Lamas of Thibet, China, and other countries 
where Buddhism prevails. In consequence of the vic- 
tories of Gengis Khan and his successors, the Lama re- 
siding in Thibet was raised to the dignity of chief pon- 
tiff of the sect. A separate province was assigned to 
him as his own territory, and besides his spiritual dig- 
nity he became to a limited extent a temporal monarch. 
He is styled the Dalai Lama. 

The first Christian missionaries who proceeded to 
Thibet were surprised to find there in the heart of y\sia 
a pontifical court and several other ecclesiastical institu- 
tions resembling those of the Roman Catholic church. 
They found convents for priests and nuns ; also pro- 
cessions and forms of religious worship, attended with 
much pomp and splendor; and many were induced by 
these similarities to consider Lamaism as a sort of de- 
generated Christianity. It is not improbable that the 
Lamas derived some of these practices from the Nesto- 
rian Christians, who were settled in Tartary when 
Buddhism was introduced into Thibet. 

PRESTER JOHN 

An early account, communicated probably by trav- 
elling merchants, of a Lama or spiritual chief among 
the Tartars, seems to have occasioned in Europe the re- 
port of a Presbyter or Prester John, a Christian pontiff 



328 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

resident in Upper Asia. The Pope sent a mission in 
search of him, as did also Louis IX. of France, some 
years later, but both missions were unsuccessful, though 
the small communities of Nestorian Christians, which 
they did find, served to keep up the belief in Europe that 
such a personage did exist somewhere in the East. At 
last in the fifteenth century, a Portuguese traveller, 
Pedro Covilham, happening to hear that there was a 
Christian prince in the country of the Abessines (Abys- 
sinia), not far from the Red Sea, concluded that this 
must be the true Prester John. He accordingly went 
thither, and penetrated to the court of the king, whom 
he calls Negus. Milton alludes to him in "Paradise 
Tost," Book XT, where, describing Adam's vision of 
his descendants in their various nations and cities, scat- 
tered over the face of the earth, he says, 

". . . Nor did his eyes not ken 
Th' empire of Negus, to his utmost port, 
Ercoco, and the less maritime kings, 
Mombaza and Quiloa and Melind." 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY ^VALHALLA THE VALKYRIOR 

NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY 

The stories which have engaged our attention thus 
far relate to the mythology of southern regions. But 
there is another branch of ancient superstitions which 
ought not to be entirely overlooked, especially as it be- 
longs to the nations from which we, through our 
English ancestors, derive our origin. It is that of the 
northern nations, called Scandinavians, who inhabited 
the countries now known as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, 
and Iceland. These mythological records are con- 



NORTHERN MYTHOLOGY 329 

tained in two collections called the Eddas, of which the 
oldest is in poetry and dates back to the year 1056, the 
more modern or prose Edda being of the date of 1640. 

According to the Eddas there was once no heaven 
above nor earth beneath, but only a bottomless deep, 
and a world of mist in which flowed a fountain. Twelve 
rivers issued from this fountain, and when they h^d 
flowed far from their source, they froze into ice, and one 
layer accumulating over another, the great deep was filled 
up. 

Southward from the world of mist was the world of 
light. From this flowed a warm wind upon the ice and 
melted it. The vapors rose in the air and formed clouds, 
from which sprang Ymir, the Frost giant and his pro- 
geny, and the cow Audhumbla, whose milk afforded 
nourishment and food to the giant. The cow got nour- 
ishment by licking the hoar frost and salt from the 
ice. While she was one day licking the salt stones 
there appeared at first the hair of a man, on the second 
day the whole head, and on the third the entire form 
endowed with beauty, agility, and power. This new be- 
ing was a god, from whom and his wife, a daughter of 
the giant race, sprang the three brothers Odin, Vili, and 
Ve. They slew the giant Ymir, and out of his body 
formed the earth, of his blood the seas, of his bones the 
mountains, of his hair the trees, of his skull the heavens, 
and of his brain clouds, charged with hail and snow. Of 
Ymir's eyebrows the gods formed Midgard (mid earth), 
destined to become the abode of man. 

Odin then regulated the periods of day and night and 
the seasons by placing in the heavens the sun and moon 
and appointing to them their respective courses. As 
soon as the sun began to shed its rays upon the earth, 
it caused the vegetable world to bud and sprout. 
Shortly after the gods had created the world they 
walked by the side of the sea, pleased with their new 
work, but found that it was still incomplete, for it was 
without human beings. They therefore took an ash tree 
and made a man out of it, and they made a woman out 
of an elder, and called the man xA.ske and the woman 
Embla. Odin then gave them life and soul, Vili reason 



330 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

and motion, and Ve bestowed upon them the senses, ex- 
pressive features, and speech. Midgard was then given 
them as their residence, and they became the progenitors 
of the human race. 

The mighty ash tree Ygdrasill was supposed to sup- 
port the whole universe. It sprang from the body of 
Ymir, and had three immense roots, extending one into 
Asgard (the dwelHng of the gods), the other into Jotun- 
heim (the abode of the giants), and the third to Niffle- 
heim (the regions of darkness and cold). By the side 
of each of these roots is a spring, from which it is 
watered. The root that extends into Asgard is care- 
fully tended by the three Norns, goddesses, who are 
regarded as the dispensers of fate. They are Urdur 
(the past), Verdandi (the present), Skuld (the future). 
The spring at the Jotunheim side is Ymir's well, in 
which wisdom and wit lie hidden, but that of Niffleheim 
feeds the adder Nidhogge (darkness), which perpetu- 
ally gnaws at the root. Four harts run across the 
branches of the tree and bite the buds ; they represent 
the four winds. Under the tree lies Ymir, and when he 
tries to shake off its weight the earth quakes. 

Asgard is the name of the abode of the gods, access 
to which is only gained by crossing the bridge Bifrost 
(the rainbow). Asgard consists of golden and silver 
palaces, the dwellings of the gods, but the most beautiful 
of these is Valhalla, the residence of Odin. When 
seated on his throne he overlooks all heaven and earth. 
Upon his shoulders are the ravens Hugin and Munin, 
who fly every day over the whole world, and on their 
return report to him all they have seen and heard. At 
his feet lie his two wolves, Geri 'and Freki, to whom 
Odin gives all the meat that is set before him, for he 
himself stands in no need of food. Mead is for him 
both food and drink. He invented the Runic characters, 
and it is the business of the Norns to engrave the runes 
of fate upon a metal shield. From Odin's name, spelt 
Woden, as it sometimes is, came Wednesday, the name 
of the fourth day of the week. 

Odin is frequently called Alfadur (All-father), but 
this name is sometimes used in a way that shows that 



OF THOR AND THE OTHER GODS 331 

the Scandinavians had an idea of a deity superior to 
Odin, uncreated and eternal. 

OF THE JOYS OF VALHALLA 

Valhalla is the great hall of Odin, wherein he feasts 
with his chosen heroes, all those who have fallen bravely 
in battle, for all who die a peaceful death are excluded. 
The flesh of the boar Schrimnir is served up to them, 
and is abundant for all. For although this boar is cooked 
every morning, he becomes whole again every night. 
For drink the heroes are supplied abundantly with mead 
from the she-goat Heidrum. When the heroes are not 
feasting they amuse themselves with fighting. Every 
day they ride out into the court or field and fight until 
they cut each other in pieces. This is their pastime; 
but when meal time comes they recover from their 
wounds and return to feast in Valhalla. 

THE VALKYRIE 

The Valkyrie are warlike virgins, mounted upon 
horses and armed with helmets and spears. Odin, who 
is desirous to collect a great many heroes in Valhalla 
to be able to meet the giants in a day when the finai 
contest must come, sends down to every battle-fielcl tt. 
make choice of those who shall be slain. The Valky- 
rie are his messengers, and their name means "Choosers 
of the slain." When they ride forth on their errand, 
their armor sheds a strange flickering light, which flashes 
up over the northern skies, making what men call the 
"Aurora Borealis," or "Northern Lights."^ 

OF THOR AND THE OTHER GODS 

Thor, the thunderer, Odin's eldest son, is the strong- 
est of gods and men, and possesses three very pre- 
cious things. The first is a hammer, which both the 
Frost and the Mountain giants know to their cost, when 
they sec it hurled against them in the air, for it has split 
many a skull of their fathers and kindred. When 

1 Gray's ode, "The Fatal Sisters," is founded on this superstition. 



332 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

thrown, it returns to his hand of its own accord. The 
second rare thing he possesses is called the belt of 
strength. When he girds it about him his divine might 
is doubled. The third, also very precious, is his iron 
gloves, which he puts on whenever he would use his 
mallet efficiently. From Thor's name is derived our 
word Thursday. 

Frey is one of the most celebrated of the gods. He 
presides over rain and sunshine and all the fruits of the 
earth. His sister Freya is the most propitious of the 
goddesses. She loves music, spring, and flowers, and is 
particularly fond of the Elves (fairies). She is very 
fond of love ditties, and all lovers would do well to 
invoke her. 

Bragi is the god of poetry, and his song records the 
deeds of warriors. His wife, Iduna, keeps in a box; 
the apples which the gods, when they feel old age ap- 
proaching, have only to taste of to become young again. 

Heimdall is the watchman of the gods, and is there- 
fore placed on the borders of heaven to prevent the 
giants from forcing their way over the bridge Bifrost 
(the rainbow). He requires less sleep than a bird, and 
sees by night as well as by day a hundred miles around 
him. So acute is his ear that no sound escapes him, for 
he can even hear the grass grow and the wool on a 
sheep's back. 

OF LOKI AND HIS PROGENY 

There is another deity who is described as the calum- 
niator of the gods and the contriver of all fraud and: 
mischief. His name is Loki. He is handsome and well 
made, but of a very fickle mood and most evil disposi- 
tion. He is of the giant race, but forced himself into 
the company of the gods, and seems to take pleasure in 
bringing them into difficulties, and in extricating them 
out of the danger by his cunning, wit, and skill. Loki 
has three children. The first is the wolf Fenris, the 
second the Midgard serpent, the third Hela (Death). 
The gods were not ignorant that these monsters were 
screwing up, and that they would one day bring much. 



HOW THOR PAID THE GIANT'S WAGES 333 

evil upon gods and men. So Odin deemed it advis- 
able to send one to bring them to him. When they came 
he threw the serpent into that deep ocean by which the 
earth is surrounded. But the monster had grown to 
such an enormous size that holding his tail in his mouth 
he encircles the whole earth. Hela he cast into Niffle- 
heim, and gave her power over nine worlds or regions, 
into which she distributes those who are sent to her; 
that is, all who die of sickness or old age. Her hall is 
called Elvidner. Hunger is her table. Starvation her 
knife, Delay her man, Slowness her maid, Precipice her 
threshold, Care her bed, and Burning Anguish forms the 
hangings of the apartments. She may easily be recog- 
nized, for her body is half flesh color and half blue, and 
she has a dreadfully stern and forbidding countenance. 
The wolf Fenris gave the gods a great deal of trou- 
ble before they succeeded in chaining him. He broke 
the strongest fetters as if they were made of cobwebs. 
Finally the gods sent a messenger to the mountain spirits^ 
who made for them the chain called Gleipnir. It is 
fashioned of six things, viz., the noise made by the 
footfall of a cat, the beards of women, the roots of 
stones, the breath of fishes, the nerves (sensibilities) of 
bears, and the spittle of birds. When finished it was 
as smooth and soft as a silken string. But when the 
gods asked the wolf to sufifer himself to be bound with 
this apparently slight ribbon, he suspected their design, 
fearing that it was made by enchantment. He there- 
fore only consented to be bound with it upon condition 
that one of the gods put his hand in his (Fenris's) 
mouth as a pledge that the band was to be removed 
again. Tyr (the god of battles) alone had courage 
enough to do this. But when the wolf found that ho 
could not break his fetters, and that the gods would not 
release him, he bit ofif Tyr's hand, and he has ever since 
remained one-handed. 

HOW TIIOR PAID THE MOUNTAIN GIANT HIS WAGES 

Once on a time, 'when the gods were constructing 
their abodes and had already finished Midgard and Val- 



334 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

halla, a certain artificer came and offered to build them 
a residence so well fortified that they should be per- 
fectly safe from the incursions of the Frost giants and 
the giants of the mountains. But he demanded for his 
reward the goddess Freya, together with the sun and 
moon. The gods yielded to his terms, provided he 
would finish the whole work himself without any one's 
assistance, and all within the space of one winter. But 
if anything remained unfinished on the first day of sum- 
mer he should forfeit the recompense agreed on. On 
being told these terms the artificer stipulated that he 
should be allowed the use of his horse Svadilfari, and 
this by the advice of Loki was granted to him. He ac- 
cordingly set to work on the first day of winter, and 
during the night let his horse draw stone for the build- 
ing. The enormous size of the stones struck the gods 
with astonishment, and they saw clearly that the horse 
did one-half more of the toilsome work than his master. 
Their bargain, however, had been concluded, and con- 
firmed by solemn oaths, for without these precautions 
a giant would not have thought himself safe among the 
jjods, especially when Thor should return from an ex- 
pedition he had then undertaken against the evil demons. 

As the winter drew to a close, the building was far 
advanced, and the bulwarks were sufficiently high and 
massive to render the place impregnable. In short, when 
it wanted but three days to summer, the only part that 
remained to be finished was the gateway. Then sat the 
i^^ods on their seats of justice and entered into consul- 
tation, inquiring of one another who among them could 
have advised to give Freya away/ or to plunge the 
heavens in darkness by permitting the giant to carry 
away the sun and the moon. 

They all agreed that no one but Loki, the author of 
so many evil deeds, could have given such bad counsel, 
and that he should be put to a truel death if he did not 
contrive some way to prevent the artificer from com- 
pleting his task and obtaining the stipulated recom- 
pense. They proceeded to lay hands on Loki, who in 
his fright promised upon oath that, let it cost him what 
it would, he would so manage matters that the man 



THE RECOVERY OF THE HAMMER 335 

should lose his reward. That very night when the man 
went with Svadilfari for building stone, a mare suddenly 
ran out of a forest and began to neigh. The horse 
thereat broke loose and ran after the mare into the 
forest, which obliged the man also to run after his 
horse, and thus between one and another the whole night 
was lost, so that at dawn the work had not made the 
usual progress. The man, seeing that he must fail of 
completing his task, resumed his own gigantic stature, 
and the gods now clearly perceived that it was in reality 
a mountain giant who had come amongst them. Feeling 
no longer boimd by their oaths, they called on Thor, 
who immediately ran to their assistance, and lifting up 
his mallet, paid the workman his wages, not with the 
sun and moon, and not even by sending him back to 
Jotunheim, for with the first blow he shattered the 
giant's skull to pieces and hurled him headlong into 
Niffleheim. 



THE RECOVERY OF THE HAMMER 

Once upon a time it happened that Thor's hammer 
fell into the possession of the giant Thrym, who buried 
it eight fathoms deep under the rocks of Jotunheim. 
Thor sent Loki to negotiate with Thrym, but he could 
only prevail so far as to get the giant's promise to re- 
store the weapon if Freya would consent to be his bride. 
Loki returned and reported the result of his mission, 
but the goddess of love was quite horrified at the idea 
of bestowing her charms on the king of the Frost giants. 
In this emergency Loki persuaded Thor to dress himself 
in Freya's clothes and accompany him to Jotunheim. 
Thrym received his veiled bride with due courtesy, but 
was greatly surprised at seeing her eat for her supper 
eight salmons and a full grown ox, besides other deli- 
cacies, washing the whole down with three tuns of 
mead. Loki, however, assured him that she had not 
tasted anything for eight long nights, so great was her 
desire to see her lover, the renowned ruler of Jotunheim. 
Thrym had at length the curiosity to peep under his 
bride's veil, but started back in affright and demanded 



336 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

why Freya's eyeballs glistened with fire. Loki repeated 
the same excuse and the giant was satisfied. He or- 
dered the hammer to be brought in and laid on the 
maiden's lap. Thereupon Thor threw off his disguise, 
grasped his redoubted weapon, and slaughtered Thrym 
and all his followers. 

Frey also possessed a wonderful weapon, a sword 
which would of itself spread a field with carnage when- 
ever the owner desired it. Frey parted with this sword, 
but was less fortunate than Thor and never recovered 
it. It happened in this way: Frey once mounted Odin's 
throne, from whence one can see over the whole uni- 
verse, and looking round saw far off in the giant's king- 
dom a beautiful maid, at the sight of whom he was 
struck with sudden sadness, insomuch that from that 
moment he could neither sleep, nor drink, nor speak. 
At last Skirnir, his messenger, drew his secret from him, 
and undertook to get him the maiden for his bride, if 
he would give him his sword as a reward. Frey con- 
sented and gave him the sword, and Skirnir set off on 
his journey and obtained the maiden's promise that with- 
in nine nights she would come to a certain place and 
there wed Frey. Skirnir having reported the success 
of his errand, Frey exclaimed: 

"Long is one night, 
Long are two nights, 
But how shall I hold out three? 
Shorter hath seemed 
A month to me oft 
Than of this longing time the half." 

So Frey obtained Gerda, the most beautiful of all 
women, for his wife, but he lost nis sword. 

This story, entitled "Skirnir For," and the one im- 
mediately preceding it, "Thrym's Quida," will be found 
poetically told in Longfellow's "Poets and Poetry of 
Europe." 



THOR'S VISIT TO JOTUNHEIM 337 

CHAPTER XXXIX 

THOR's visit to JOTUNHEIM 
THOR'S visit TO JOTUNHEIM, THE GIANT's COUNTRY 

One day the god Thor, with his servant Thialfi, and 
accompanied by Loki, set out on a journey to the giant's 
country. Thialfi was of all men the swiftest of foot. 
He bore Thor's wallet, containing their provisions. 
When night came on they found themselves in an im- 
mense forest, and searched on all sides for a place where 
they might pass the night, and at last came to a very 
large hall, with an entrance that took the whole breadth 
of one end of the building. Here they lay down to 
sleep, but towards midnight were alarmed by an earth- 
quake which shook the whole edifice. Thor, rising up, 
called on his companions to seek with him a place of 
safety. On the right they found an adjoining chamber, 
into which the others entered, but Thor remained at 
the doorway with his mallet in his hand, prepared to 
defend himself, whatever might happen. A terrible 
groaning was heard during the night, and at dawn of 
day Thor went out and found lying near him a huge 
giant, who slept and snored in the way that had alarmed 
them so. It is said that for once Thor was afraid to 
use his mallet, and as the giant soon waked up, Thor 
contented himself with simply asking his name. 

"My name is Skrymir," said the giant, "but I need 
not ask thy name, for I know that thou art the god 
Thor. But what has become of my glove?" Thor then 
perceived that what they had taken overnight for a 
hall was the giant's glove, and the chamber where his 
two companions had sought refuge was the thumb. 
Skrymir then proposed that they should travel in com- 
pany, and Thor consenting, they sat down to eat their 
breakfast, and when they had done, Skrymir packed all 
the provisions into one wallet, threw it over his shoulder, 
and strode on before them, taking such tremendous 



338 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

strides that they were hard put to it to keep up with 
him. So they travelled the whole day, and at dusk 
Skrymir chose a place for them to pass the night in 
under a large oak tree. Skrymir then told them he 
would lie down to sleep. "But take ye the wallet," he 
added, "and prepare your supper." 

Skrymir soon fell asleep and began to snore strongly; 
but when Thor tried to open the wallet, he found the 
giant had tied it up so tight he could not untie a single 
knot. At last Thor became wroth, and grasping his 
mallet with both han(;ls he struck a furious blow on the 
giant's head. Skrymir, awakening, merely asked whether 
a leaf had not fallen on his head, and whether they 
had supped and were ready to go to sleep. Thor an- 
swered that they were just going to sleep, and so saying 
went and laid himself down under another tree. But 
sleep came not that night to Thor, and when Skrymir 
snored again so loud that the forest reechoed with the 
noise, he arose, and grasping his mallet launched it 
with such force at the giant's skull that it made a deep 
dint in it. Skrymir, awakening, cried out, "What's the 
matter? Are there any birds perched on this tree? i 
felt some moss from the branches fall on my head. 
How fares it with thee, Thor?" But Thor went away 
hastily, saying that he had just then awoke, and that as 
it was only midnight, there was still time for sleep. 
He, however, resolved that if he had an opportunity of 
striking a third blow, it should settle all m?.tters between 
them. A little before daybreak he perceived that Skry- 
mir was again fast asleep, and again grasping his mal- 
let, he dashed it with such violence that it forced its 
way into the giant's skull up to the handle. But Skrymir 
sat up, and stroking his cheek said, "An acorn fell on 
my head. What! Art thou awake, Thor? Methinks 
it is time for us to get up and dress ourselves ; but you 
have not now a long way before you to the city called 
Utgard. I have heard you whispering to one another 
that I am not a man of small dimensions; but if you 
come to Utgard you will see there many men much 
taller than I. Wherefore, I advise you, when you come 
there, not to make too much of yourselves, for the 



THOR'S VISIT TO JOTUNHEIM 339 

followers of Utgard-Loki will not brook the boasting 
of such little fellows as you are. You must take the 
road that leads eastward, mine lies northward, so we 
must part here." 

Hereupon he threw his wallet over his shoulders and 
turned away from them into the forest, and Thor had 
no wish to stop him or to ask for any more of his 
company. 

Thor and his companions proceeded on their way, and 
towards noon descried a city standing in the middle of 
a plain. It was so lofty that they were obliged to bend 
their necks quite back on their shoulders in order to 
see to the top of it. On arriving they entered the city, 
and seeing a large palace before them with the door 
wide open, they went in, and found a number of men 
of prodigious stature, sitting on benches in the hall. 
Going further, they came before the king, Utgard-Loki, 
whom they saluted with great respect. The king, re- 
garding them with a scornful smile, said, "If I do not 
mistake me, that stripling yonder must be the god Thor." 
Then addressing himself to Thor, he said, "Perhaps 
thou mayst be more than thou appearest to be. What 
are the feats that thou and thy fellows deem yourselves 
skilled in, for no one is permitted to remain here who 
does not, in some feat or other, excel all other men?" 

"The feat that I know," said Lok^i, "is to eat quicker 
than any one else, and in this I am ready to give a 
proof against any one here who may choose to com- 
pete with me." 

"That will indeed be a feat," said Utgard-Loki, "if 
thou performest what thou promisest, and it shall be 
tried forthwith." 

He then ordered one of his men who was sitting at 
the farther end of the bench, and whose name was 
Logi, to come forward and try his skill with Loki. A 
trough filled with meat having been set on the hall 
floor, Loki placed himself at one end, and Logi at the 
other, and each of them began to eat as fast as he could, 
until they met in the middle of the trough. But it was 
found that Loki had only eaten the flesh, while his 
adversary had devoured both flesh and bone, and the 



340 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

trough to boot. All the company therefore adjudged 
that Loki was vanquished. 

Utgard-Loki then asked what feat the young man 
who accompanied Thor could perform. Thialfi answered 
that he would run a race with any one who might be 
matched against him. The king observed that skill 
in running was something to boast of, but if the youth 
would win the match he must display great agility. He 
then arose and went with all who were present to a 
plain where there was good ground for running on, and 
calling a young man named Hugi, bade him run a match 
with Thialfi. In the first course Hugi so much out- 
stripped his competitor that he turned back and met 
him not far from the starting place. Then they ran a 
second and a third time, but Thialfi met with no better 
success. 

Utgard-Loki then asked Thor in what feats he would 
choose to give proofs of that prowess for which he 
was so famous. Thor answered that he would try a. 
drinking-match with any one. Utgard-Loki bade his 
cup-bearer bring the large horn which his followers 
were obliged to empty when they had trespassed m any 
way against the law of the feast. The cupbearer having 
presented it to Thor, Utgard-Loki said, "Whoever is 
a good drinker will empty that horn at a single draught, 
though most men make two of it, but the most puny 
drinker can do it in three." 

Thor looked at the horn, which seemed of no ex- 
traordinary size though somewhat long; however, as 
he was very thirsty, he set it to his lips, and without 
drawing breath, pulled as long and a/ deeply as he could, 
that he might not be obliged to m4ke a second draught 
of it; but when he set the horn down and looked in, 
he could scarcely perceive that the liquor was diminished. 

After taking breath, Thor went to it again with all 
his might, but when he took the horn from his mouth, 
it seemed to him that he had drunk rather less than 
before, although the horn could now be carried without 
spilling. 

"How now, Thor?" said Utgard-Loki; "thou must 
not spare thvself; if thou meanest to drain the horn 



THOR'S VISIT TO JOTUNHEIM 341 

at the third draught thou must pull deeply; and I must 
needs say that thou wilt not be called so mighty a man 
here as thou art at home if thou showest no greater 
prowess in other feats than methinks will be shown in 
this." 

Thor, full of wrath, again set the horn to his lips, 
and did his best to empty it; but on looking in found 
the liquor was only a little lower, so he resolved to make 
no further attempt, but gave back the horn to the cup- 
bearer. 

"I now see plainly," said Utgard-Loki, "that thou art 
not quite so stout as we thought thee : but wilt thou 
try any other feat, though methinks thou art not likely 
to bear any prize away with thee hence." 

"What new trial hast thou to propose?" said Thor. 

"We have a very trifling game here," answered Ut- 
gard-Loki, "in which we exercise none but children. 
It consists in merely lifting my cat from the ground; 
nor should I have dared to mention such a feat to the 
great Thor if I had not already observed that thou art 
by no means what we took thee for." 

As he finished speaking, a large gray cat sprang on 
the hall floor. Thor put his hand under the cat's belly 
and did his utmost to raise him from the floor, but the 
cat, bending his back, had, notwithstanding all Thor's 
efi:orts, only one of his feet lifted up, seeing which 
Thor made no further attempt. 

"This trial has turned out," said Utgard-Loki, "just 
as I imagined it would. The cat is large, but Thor 
is little in comparison to our men." 

"Little as ye call me," answered Thor, "let me see 
who among you will come hither now I am in wrath 
and wrestle with me." 

"I see no one here," said Utgard-Loki, looking at th? 
men sitting on the benches, "who would not think it 
beneath him to wrestle with thee; let somebody, how- 
ever, call hither that old crone, my nurse Elli, and let 
Thor wrestle with her if he will. She has thrown to 
the ground many a man not less strong than this Thor 



IS." 



A toothless old woman then entered the hall, and 



342 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

was told by Utgard-Loki to take hold of Thor. The 
tale is shortly told. The more Thor tightened his hold 
on the crone the firmer she stood. At length after a 
very violent struggle Thor began to lose his footing, 
and was finally brought down upon one knee. Utgard- 
Loki then told them to desist, adding that Thor had 
now no occasion to ask any one else in the hall to 
wrestle with him, and it was also getting late; so he 
showed Thor and his companions to their seats, and they 
passed the night there in good cheer. 

The next morning, at break of day, Thor and his 
companions dressed themselves and prepared for their 
departure. Utgard-Loki ordered a table to be set for 
them, on which there was no lack of victuals or drink. 
After the repast Utgard-Loki led them to the gate of 
the city, and on parting asked Thor how he thought his 
journey had turned out, and whether he had met with 
any men stronger than himself. Thor told him that he 
could not deny but that he had brought great shame on 
himself. 'And what grieves me most," he added, "is 
that ye will call me a person of little worth." 

"Nay," said Utgard-Loki, "it behooves me to tell thee 
the truth, now thou art out of the city, which so long 
as I live and have my way thou shalt never enter again. 
And, by my troth, had I known beforehand that thou 
hadst so much strength in thee, and wouldst have 
brought me so near to a great mishap, I would not have 
suffered thee to enter this time. Know then that I have 
all along deceived thee by my illusions ; first in the 
forest, where I tied up the wallet with iron wire so 
that thou couldst not untie it. After this thou gavest 
me three blows with thy mallet; tne first, though the 
least, would have ended my days had it fallen on me, 
but I slipped aside and thy blows fell on the mountain, 
where thou wilt find three glens, one of them remark- 
ably deep. These are the dints made by thy mallet. I 
have made use of similar illusions in the contests you 
have had with my followers. In the first, Loki, like 
hunger itself, devoured all that was set before him, 
but Logi was in reality nothing else than Fire, and 
therefore consumed not only the meat, but the trough 



THE DEATH OF BALDUR 343 

which held it. Hugi, with whom Thialfi contended in 
running, was Thought, and it was impossible for Thialfi 
to keep pace with that. When thou in thy turn didst 
attempt to empty the horn, thou didst perform, by my 
troth, a deed so maiwellous that had I not seen it my- 
self I should never have believed it. For one end of that 
horn reached the sea, which thou wast not aware of, but 
when thou comest to the shore thou wilt perceive how 
much the sea has sunk by thy draughts. Thou didst 
perform a feat no less wonderful by lifting up the cat, 
and to tell thee the truth, when we saw that one of 
his paws was off the floor, we were all of us terror- 
stricken, for what thou tookest for a cat was in reality 
the Midgard serpent that encompasseth the earth, and 
he was so stretched by thee that he was barely long 
enough to enclo3e it between his head and tail. Thy 
wrestling with Elli was also a most astonishing feat, 
for there was never yet a man, nor ever will be, whom 
Old Age, for such in fact was Elli, will not sooner or 
later lay low. But now, as we are going to part, let 
me tell thee that it will be better for both of us if thou 
never come near me again, for shouldst thou do so, I 
shall again defend myself by other illusions, so that 
thou wilt only lose thy labor and get no fame from 
the contest with me." 

On hearing these words Thor in a rage laid hold of 
his mallet and would have launched it at him, but 
Utgard-Loki had disappeared, and when Thor would 
have returned to the city to destroy it, he found noth- 
ing around him but a verdant plain. 



CHAPTER XL 

THE DEATH OF BALDUR THE ELVES RUNIC LETTERS- 
ICELAND TEUTONIC MYTHOLOGY NIBELUNGEN LIED 

THE DEATH OF BALDUR 

Baldur the Good, having been tormented with ter- 
rible dreams indicating that his life was in peril, told 



344 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

them to the assembled gods, who Resolved to conjure all 
things to avert from him the threatened danger. Then 
Frigga, the wife of Odin, exacted an oath from fire 
and water, from iron and all other metals, from stones, 
trees, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, 
that none of them would do any harm to Baldur. Odin, 
not satisfied with all this, and feeling alarmed for the 
fate of his son, determined to consult the prophetess 
Angerbode, a giantess, mother of Fenris, Hela, and the 
Midgard serpent. She was dead, and Odin was forced 
to seek her in Hela's dominions. This Descent of Odin 
forms the subject of Gray's fine ode beginning, 

"Uprose the king of men with speed 
And saddled straight his coal-black steed " 

But the other gods, feeling that what Frigga had 
done was quite sufficient, amused themselves with using 
Baldur as a mark, some hurling darts at him, some 
stones, while others hewed at him with their swords 
and battle-axes ; for do what they would, none of them 
could harm him. And this became a favorite pastime 
with them and was regarded as an honor shown to 
Baldur. But when Loki beheld the scene he was sorely 
vexed that Baldur was not hurt. Assuming, therefore, 
the shape of a woman, he went to Fensalir, the man- 
sion of Frigga. That goddess, when she saw the pre- 
tended woman, inquired of her if she knew what the 
gods were doing at their meetings. She replied that 
they were throwing darts and stones at Baldur, with- 
out being able to hurt him. "Ay," said Frigga, "neither 
stones, nor sticks, nor anything else can hurt Baldur, 
for I have exacted an oath from all of them." "What," 
exclaimed the woman, "have all things sworn to spare 
Baldur?" "All things," replied Frigga, "except one lit- 
tle shrub that grows on the eastern side of Valhalla, 
and is called Mistletoe, and which I thought too young 
and feeble to crave an oath from." 

As soon as Loki heard this he went away, and re- 
suming his natural shape, cut off the mistletoe, and re- 
paired to the place where the gods were assembled. 
There he found Hodur standing apart, without partak- 



THE DEATH OF BALDUR 345 

ing of the sports, on account of his blindness, and going 
up to him, said, "Why dost thou not also throw some- 
thing at Baldur?" 

"Because I am blind," answered Hodur, "and see 
not where Baldur is, and have, moreover, nothing to 
throw." 

"Come, then," said Loki, "do like the rest, and show 
honor to Baldur by throwing this twig at him, and I 
will direct thy arm towards the place where he stands." 

Hodur then took the mistletoe, and under the guid- 
ance of Loki, darted it at Baldur, who, pierced through 
and through, fell down lifeless. Surely never was there 
witnessed, either among gods or men, a more atrocious 
deed than this. When Baldur fell, the gods were struck 
speechless with horror, and then they looked at each 
other, and all were of one mind to lay hands on him 
who had done the deed, but they were obliged to delay 
their vengeance out of respect for the sacred place where 
they were assembled. They gave vent to their grief by 
loud lamentations. When the gods came to themselves, 
Frigga asked who among them wished to gain all her 
love and good will. "For this," said she, "sha*' he have 
who will ride to Hel and offer Hela a ransom if she 
will let Baldur return to Asgard." Whereupon Hermod, 
surnamed the Nimble, the son of Odin, offered to un- 
dertake the journey. Odin's horse, Sleipnir, which has 
eight legs and can outrun the wind, was then led forth, 
on which Hermod mounted and galloped away on his 
mission. For the space of nine days and as many nights 
he rode through deep glens so dark that he could not 
discern anything, until he arrived at the river Gyoll, 
which he passed over on a bridge covered with glit- 
tering gold. The maiden who kept the bridge asked him 
his name and lineage, telling him that the day before 
five bands of dead persons had ridden over the bridge, 
and did not shake it as much as he alone. "But," she 
added, "thou hast not death's hue on thee; why then 
ridest thou here on the way to Hel?" 

"I ride to Hel," answered Hermod, "to seek Baldur. 
Hast thou perchance seen him pass this way?" 

She replied, "Baldur hath ridden over GyoU'a bridge, 



346 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

and yonder Heth the way he took to the abodes of 
death." 

Hermod pursued his journey until he came to the 
barred gates of Hel. Here he alighted, girthed his sad- 
dle tighter, and remounting clapped both spurs to his 
horse, who cleared the gate by a tremendous leap with- 
out touching it. Hermod then rode on to the palace, 
where he found his brother Baldur occupying the most 
distinguished seat in the hall, and passed the night in 
his company. The next morning he besought Hela to let 
Baldur ride home with him, assuring her that nothing 
but lamentations were to be heard among the gods. 
Hela answered that it should now be tried whether 
Baldur was so beloved as he was said to be. "If, 
therefore," she added, "all things in the world, both liv- 
ing and lifeless, weep for him, then shall he return to 
life; but if any one thing speak against him or refuse 
to weep, he shall be kept in Hel." 

Hermod then rode back to Asgard and gave an ac- 
count of all he had heard and witnessed. 

The gods upon this despatched messengers through- 
out the world to beg everything to weep in order that 
Baldur might be delivered from Hel. All things very 
willingly complied with this request, both men and every 
other living being, as well as earths, and stones, and 
trees, and metals, just as we have all seen these things 
weep when they are brought from a cold place into a 
hot one. As the messengers were returning, they found 
an old hag named Thaukt sitting in a cavern, and begged 
her to weep Baldur out of Hel. But , she answered, 

"Thaukt will wail 
With dry tears 
Baldur's bale-fire. 
Let Hela keep her own." 



It was strongly suspected that this hag was no other 
t!ian Loki himself, who never ceased to work evil among 
gods and men. So Baldur was prevented from coming 
back to Asgard.^ 

^ In Longfellow's Poems will be found a poem entitled "Tegner's Drapa," 
upon the subject of Baldur's death. 



THE FUNERAL OF BALDUR 347 



THE FUNERAL OF BALDUR 

The gods took up the dead body and bore it to the 
seashore where stood Baldur's ship "Hringham," which 
passed for the largest in the world. Baldur's dead body 
was put on the funeral pile, on board the ship, and his 
wife Nanna was so struck with grief at the sight that 
she broke her heart, and her body was burned on the 
same pile as her husband's. There was a vast concourse 
of various kinds of people at Baldur's obsequies. First 
came Odin accompanied by Frigga, the Valkyrie, and 
his ravens ; then Frey in his car drawn by Gullinbursti, 
the boar; Heimdall rode his horse Gulltopp, and Freya 
drove in her chariot drawn by cats. There were also a 
great many Frost giants and giants of the mountain 
present. Baldur's horse was led to the pile fully ca- 
parisoned and consumed in the same flames with his 
master. 

But Loki did not escape his deserved punishment. 
When he saw how angry the gods were, he fled to the 
mountain, and there built himself a hut with four doors, 
so that he could see every approaching danger. He in- 
vented a net to catch the fishes, such as fishermen have 
used since his time. But Odin found out his hiding- 
place and the gods assembled to take him. He, seeing 
this, changed himself into a salmon, and lay hid among 
the stones of the brook. But the gods took his net 
and dragged the brook, and Loki, finding he must be 
caught, tried to leap over the net ; but Thor caught him 
by the tail and compressed it, so that salmons ever since 
have had that part remarkably fine and thin. They bound 
him with chains and suspended a serpent over his head., 
whose venom falls upon his face drop by drop. His 
wife Siguna sits by his side and catches the drops as 
they fall, in a cup ; but when she carries it away to * 
empty it, the venom falls upon Loki, which makes him 
howl with horror, and twist his body about so violently 
that the whole earth shakes, and this produces what men 
call earthquakes. 



348 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 



THE ELVES 

The Edda mentions another class of beings, inferior 
to the gods, but still possessed of great power ; these 
were called Elves. The white spirits, or Elves of 
Light, were exceedingly fair, more brilliant than the 
sun, and clad in garments of a delicate and transparent 
texture. They loved the light, were kindly disposed to 
mankind, and generally appeared as fair and lovely chil- 
dren. Their country was called Alfheim, and was the 
domain of Freyr, the god of the sun, in whose light 
they were always sporting. 

The Black or Night Elves were a different kind of 
creatures. Ugly, long-nosed dwarfs, of a dirty brown 
color, they appeared only at night, for they avoided the 
sun as their most deadly enemy, because whenever his 
beams fell upon any of them they changed them imme- 
diately into stones. Their language was the echo of 
solitudes, and their dwelling-places subterranean caves 
and clefts. They were supposed to have come into ex- 
istence as maggots produced by the decaying flesh of 
Ymir's body, and were afterwards endowed by the gods 
with a human form and great understanding. They 
were particularly distinguished for a knowledge of the 
mysterious powers of nature, and for the runes which 
they carved and explained. They were the most skilful 
artificers of all created beings, and worked in metals and 
in wood. Among their most noted works were Thor's 
hammer, and the ship "Skidbladnir," which they gave 
to Freyr, and which was so large that it could contain 
all the deities with their war and household implements, 
but so skillfully was it wrought that when folded tO' 
gether it could be put into a side pocket. 

RAGNAROK, THE TWILIGHT OF THE GODS 

It was a firm belief of the northern nations that a time 
would come when all the visible creation, the gods of 
Valhalla and Nififleheim, the inhabitants of Jotunheim, 
Alfheim, and Midgard, together with their habitations, 
would be destroyed. The fearful day of destruction 



RAGNAROK ' 349 

will not, however, be without its forerunners. First 
will come a triple winter, during which snow will fall 
from the four corners of the heavens, the frost be very 
severe, the wind piercing, the weather tempestuous, and 
the sun impart no gladness. Three such winters will 
pass away without being tempered by a single summer. 
Three other similar winters will then follow, during 
which war and discord will spread over the universe. 
The earth itself will be frightened and begin to tremble, 
the sea leave its basin, the heavens tear asunder, and 
men perish in great numbers, and the eagles of the air 
feast upon their still quivering bodies. The wolf Fenris 
will now break his bands, the Midgard serpent rise out 
of her bed in the sea, and Loki, released from his bonds, 
will join the enemies of the gods. Amidst the general 
devastation the sons of Muspelheim will rush forth un- 
der their leader Surtur, before and behind whom are 
flames and burning fire. Onward they ride over Bifrost, 
the rainbow bridge, which breaks under the horses' 
hoofs. But they, disregarding its fall, direct their 
course to the battlefield called Vigrid. Thither also re- 
pair the wolf Fenris, the Midgard serpent, Loki with 
all the followers of Hela, and the Frost giants. 

Heimdall now stands up and sounds the Giallar horn 
to assemble the gods and heroes for the contest. The 
gods advance, led on by Odin, who engages the wolf 
Fenris, but falls a victim to the monster, who is, how-' 
ever, slain by Vidar, Odin's son. Thor gains great re- 
nown by killing the Midgard serpent, but recoils and 
falls dead, suffocated with the venom which the dying 
monster vomits over him. Loki and Heimdall meet 
and fight till they are both slain. The gods and their 
enemies having fallen in battle, Surtur, who has killed 
Freyr, darts fire and flames over the world, and the 
whole universe is burned up. The sun becomes dim, 
the earth sinks into the ocean, the stars fall from heaven, 
and time is no more. 

After this Alfadur (the Almighty) will cause a new 
heaven and a new earth to arise out of the sea. The 
new earth filled with abundant supplies will spontane- 
ously produce its fruits without labor or care. Wicked- 



350 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

ness and misery will no more be known, but the gods 
and men will live happily together. 

RUNIC LETTERS 

One cannot travel far in Denmark, Norway, or 
Sweden without meeting with great stones of different 
forms, engraven with characters called Runic, which 
appear at first sight very different from all we know. 
The letters consist almost invariably of straight lines, 
in the shape of little sticks either singly or put together. 
Such sticks were in early times used by the northern 
nations for the purpose of ascertaining future events. 
The sticks were shaken up, and from the figures that 
they formed a kind of divination was derived. 

The Runic characters were of various kinds. They 
were chiefly used for magical purposes. The noxious, 
or, as they called them, the bitter runes, were em- 
ployed to bring various evils on their enemies ; the favor- 
able averted misfortune. Some were medicinal, others 
employed to win love, etc. In later times they were 
frequently used for inscriptions, of which more than a 
thousand have been found. The language is a dialect of 
the Gothic, called Norse, still in use in Iceland. The 
inscriptions may therefore be read with certainty, but 
hitherto very few have been found which throw the 
least light on history. They are mostly epitaphs on 
tombstones. 

Gray's ode on the "Descent of Odin" contains an al- 
lusion to the use of Runic letters for incantation : 

"Facing to the northern clime/ 
Thrice he traced the Runic rhyme; 
Thrice pronounced, in accents dread, 
The thrilHng verse that wakes the dead, 
Till from out the hollow ground 
Slowly breathed a sullen sound." 

THE SKALDS 

The Skalds were the bards and poets of the nation, 
a very important class of men in all communities in an 
early stage of civilization. They are the depositaries of 



TEUTONIC MYTHOLOGY 55i 

whatever historic lore there is, and it is their office to 
mingle something of intellectual gratification with the 
rude feasts of the warriors, by rehearsing, with such 
accompaniments of poetry and music as their skill can 
afford, the exploits of their heroes living or dead. The 
compositions of the Skalds were called Sagas, many of 
which have come down to us, and contain valuable ma- 
terials of history, and a faithful picture of the state of 
society at the time to which they relate. 

ICELAND 

The Eddas and Sagas have come to us from Iceland. 
The following extract from Carlyle's lectures on "Heroes 
and Hero Worship" gives an animated account of the 
region where the strange stories we have been reading 
had their origin. Let the reader contrast it for a mo- 
ment with Greece, the parent of classical mythology: 

"In that strange island, Iceland, burst up, the geolo- 
gists say, by fire from the bottom of the sea, a wild land 
of barrenness and lava, swallowed many months of every 
year in black tempests, yet with a wild, gleaming beauty 
in summer time, towering up there stern and grim in 
the North Ocean, with its snow yokuls [mountains], 
roaring geysers [boiling springs], sulphur pools, and 
horrid volcanic chasms, like the waste, chaotic battle- 
field of Frost and Fire, where, of all places, we least 
looked for literature or written memorials, the record 
of these things was written down. On the seaboard of 
this wild land is a rim of grassy country, where cattle 
can subsist, and men by means of them and of what the 
sea yields; and it seems they were poetic men these, 
men who had deep thoughts in them and uttered music- 
ally their thoughts. Much would be lost had Ice- 
land not been burst up from the sea, not been discovered 
by the Northmen !" 

TEUTONIC MYTHOLOGY 

In the mythology of Germany proper, the name of 
Odin appears as Wotan ; Freya and Frigga are regarded 
as one and the same divinity, and the gods are in gener-tl 



352 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

represented as less warlike in character than those in 
the Scandinavian myths. As a whole, however, Teu- 
tonic mythology runs along almost identical lines 
with that of the northern nations. The most notable 
divergence is due to modifications, of the legends by 
reason of the difference in climatic conditions. The 
more advanced social condition of the Germans is also 
apparent in their mythology. 

THE NIBELUNGEN LIED 

One of the oldest myths of the Teutonic race is found 
in the great national epic of the Nibelungen Lied, which 
dates back to the prehistoric era when Wotan, Frigga, 
Thor, Loki, and the other gods and goddesses were 
worshipped in the German forests. The epic is divided 
into two parts, the first of which tells how Siegfried, 
the youngest of the kings of the Netherlands, went to 
Worms, to ask in marriage the hand of Kriemhild, sister 
of Giinther, King of Burgundy. While he was staying 
with Giinther, Siegfried helped the Burgundian king to 
secure as his wife Brunhild, queen of Issland. The 
latter had announced publicly that he only should be her 
husband who could beat her in hurling a spear, throwing 
a huge stone, and in leaping. Siegfried, who possessed 
a cloak of invisibility, aided Giinther in these three con- 
tests, and Brunhild became his wife. In return for these 
services, Giinther gave Siegfried his sister Kriemhild in 
marriage. 

After some time had elapsed, Siegfried and Kriem- 
hild went to visit Giinther, when the two women fell into 
a dispute about the relative merits oi their husbands. 
Kriemhild, to exalt Siegfried, boasted that it was to the 
latter that Giinther owed his victories and his wife. 
Brunhild, in great anger, employed Hagan, liegeman of 
Giinther, to murder Siegfried. In the epic Hagan is de- 
scribed as follows : 

"Well-grown and well-compacted was that redoubted guest; 
Long were his legs and sinewy, and deep and broad his chest; 
His hair, that once was sable, with gray was dashed of late; 
Most terrible his visage, and lordly was his gait." 

Nibelungen Lied, stanza 1789. 




A VALKYR. 
From paintings by V. N. Arbo. 




LlJ 
C3 

Z 

UJ 

I 
UJ 

z 
o 

H 



a 
a 
u 
it 





THE NIBELUNGEN HOARD 353 

This Achilles of German romance stabbed Siegfried 
between the shoulders, as the unfortunate King of the 
Netherlands was stooping to drink from a brook during 
a hunting expedition. 

The second part of the epic relates how, thirteen years 
later, Kriemhild married Etzel, King of the Huns. 
After a time, she invited the King of Burgundy, with 
Hagan and many others, to tJie court of her husband. 
A fearful quarrel was stirred up in the banquet hall, 
which ended in the slaughter of all the Burgundians but 
Giinther and Hagan. These two weretaken prisoners 
and given to Kriemhild, who with her own hand cut off 
the heads of both. For this bloody act of vengeanc*? 
Kriemhild was herself slain by Hildebrand, a magician 
and champion, who in German mythology holds a place 
to an extent corresponding to that of Nestor in the 
Greek mythology. 

THE NIBELUNGEN HOARD 

This was a mythical mass of gold and precious stones 
which Siegfried obtained from the Nibelungs, the people 
of the north whom he had conquered and whose country 
he had made tributary to his own kingdom of the Nether- 
lands. Upon his marriage, Siegfried gave the treasure 
to Kriemhild as her wedding portion. After the murder 
of Siegfried, Hagan seized it and buried it secretly be- 
neath the Rhine at Lochham, intending to recover it at 
a future period. The hoard was lost forever when 
Hagan was killed by Kriemhild. Its wonders are thus 
set forth in the poem : 

" 'Twas as much as twelve huge wagons in four whole nights 
and days 
Could carry from the mountain down to the salt sea bay; 
Though to and fro each wagon thrice journeyed every day. 

"It was made up of nothing but precious stones and gold; 
Were all the world bought from it, and down the value told, 
Not a mark the less would there be left than erst there was, I 
ween." 

Nibelungen Lied, XIX. 



354 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Whoever possessed the Nibelungen hoard were 
termed Nibelungers. Thus at one time certain people 
of Norway were so called. When Siegfried held the 
treasure he received the title "King of the Nibelungers." 

Wagner's nibelungen ring 

Though Richard Wagner's music-drama of the Nibe- 
lungen Ring bears some resemblance to the ancient Ger- 
man epic, it is a wholly independent composition and 
was derived from various old songs and sagas, which 
the dramatist wove into one great harmonious story. 
The principal source was the Volsunga Saga, while 
lesser parts were taken from the Elder Edda and the 
Younger Edda, and others from the Nibelungen Lied, 
the Ecklenlied, and other Teutonic folklore. 

In the drama there are at first only four distinct races, 
the gods, the giants, the dwarfs, and the nymphs. 
Later, by a special creation, there come the valkyrie and 
the heroes. The gods are the noblest and highest race, 
and dwell first in the mountain meadows, later in the 
palace of Valhalla on the heights. The giants are a 
great and strong race, but lack wisdom ; they hate wliat 
is noble, and are enemies of the gods ; they dwell in caves 
near the earth's surface. The dwarfs, or nihelnngs, are 
black uncouth pigmies, hating the good, hating the gods ; 
they are crafty and cunning, and dwell in the bowels of 
the earth. The nymphs are pure, innocent creatures of 
the Avater. The valkyrie are daughters of the gods, but 
mingled with a mortal strain ; they gather dead heroes 
from the battle-fields and carry them to Valhalla. The 
heroes are children of the gods, but also mingled with 
a mortal strain; they are destined tp^ become at last the 
highest race of all, and to succeed the gods in the govern- 
ment of the world. 

The principal gods are Wotan, Loki, Donner, and 
Froh. The chief giants are Fafner and Fasolt, brothers. 
The chief dwarfs are Alberich and Mime, brothers, and 
later Hagan, son of Alberich. The chief nymphs are 
the Rhine-daughters, Flosshilda, Woglinda, and Well- 
gunda. There are nine A^alkyrie, of whom Brunhild 
is the leading one. 



WAGNER'S NIBELUNGEN RING 355 

Wagner's story of the Ring may be summarized as 
follows : 

A hoard of gold exists in the depths of the Rhine, 
guarded by the innocent Rhine-maidens. Alberich, the 
dwarf, forswears love to gain this gold. He makes it 
into a magic ring. It gives him all power, and he gathers 
by it a vast amount of treasures. 

Meanwhile Wotan, chief of the gods, has engaged the 
giants to build for him a noble castle, V'alhalla, from 
whence to rule the world, promising in payment Freya, 
goddess of youth and love. But the gods find they cannot 
spare Freya, as they are dependent on her for their im- 
mortal youth. Loki, called upon to provide a substitute, 
tells of Alberich's magic ring and other treasure. Wotan 
goes with Loki, and they steal the ring and the golden 
hoard from Alberich, who curses the ring and lays the 
curse on all who shall henceforth possess it. The gods 
give the ring and the treasure to the giants as a sub- 
stitute for Freya. The curse at once begins. One giant, 
Fafner, kills his brother to get all, and transforms him- 
self into a dragon to guard his wealth. The gods enter 
Valhalla over the rainbow bridge. This ends the first 
part of the drama, called the Rhine-Gold. 

The second part, the Valkyrie, relates how Wotan still 
covets the ring. He cannot take it himself, for he has 
given his word to the giants. He stands or falls by his 
word. So he devises an artifice to get the ring. He 
will get a hero-race to work for him and recover the 
ring and the treasures. Siegmund and Sieglinda are 
twin children of this new race. Sieglinda is carried off 
as a child and is forced into marriage with Hunding. 
Siegmimd comes, and unknowingly breaks the law of 
marriage, but wins Nothung, the great sword, 
and a bride. Brunhild, chief of the Valkyrie, is com- 
missioned by Wotan at the instance of Fricka, god- 
dess of marriage, to slay him for his sin. She disobeys 
and tries to save him, but Hunding, helped by Wotan, 
slays him. Sieglinda, however, about to bear the free 
hero, to be called Siegfried, is saved by Brunhild, and 
hid in ihe forest. Brunhild herself is ])unished by 
being made a mortal woman. She is left sleeping on the 



356 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

mountains with a wall of fire around her which only a 
hero can penetrate. 

The drama continues with the story of Siegfried, 
which opens with a scene in the smithy between Mime 
th^ dwarf and Siegfried. Mime is welding a sword, 
and Siegfried scorns him. Mime tells him something of 
his mother, Sieglinda, and shows him the broken pieces 
of his father's sword. Wotan comes and tells Mime that 
only one who has no fear can remake the sword. Now 
Siegfried knows no fear and soon remakes the sword 
Nothung. Wotan and Alberich come to where the 
dragon Fafner is guarding the ring. They both long for 
it, but neither can take it. Soon Mime comes bringing 
Siegfried with the mighty sword. Fafner comes out, but 
Siegfried slays him. Happening to touch his lips with 
the dragon's blood, he understands the language of the 
birds. They tell him of the ring. He goes and gets it. 
Siegfried now has possession of the ring, but it is to 
bring him nothing of happiness, only evil. It is to curse 
love and finally bring death. The birds also tell him of 
Mime's treachery. He slays Mime. He longs for some 
one to love. The birds tell him of the slumbering 
Brunnhilda, whom he finds and marries. 

The Dusk of the Gods portrays at the opening the 
three norns or fates weaving and measuring the thread 
of destiny. It is the beginning of the end. The perfect 
pair, Siegfried and Brunhild, appear in all the glory 
of their life, splendid ideals of manhood and womanhood. 
But Siegfried goes out into the world to achieve deeds 
of prowess. He gives her the Nibelungen ring to keep 
as a pledge of his love till his return. Meanwhile Al- 
berich also has begotten a son, Hagafi, to achieve for 
him the possession of the ring. He is partly of the 
Gibichung race, and works through Giinther and Gut- 
rune, half-brother and half-sister to him. They beguile 
Siegfried to them, give him a magic draught which 
makes him forget Brunhild and fall in love with Guf- 
rune. Under this same spell, he offers to bring Brun- 
hild for wife to Giinther. Now is Valhalla full of 
sorrow and despair. The gods fear the end. Wotan 
murmurs, "O that she would give back the ring to the 



WAGNER'S NIBELUNGEN RING 357 

Rhine." But Brunhild will not give it up, it is now 
her pledge of love. Siegfried comes, takes the ring, and 
Brunhild is now brought to the Rhine castle of the 
Gibichungs, but Siegfried under the spell does not love 
her. She is to be wedded to Giinther. She rises in 
wrath and denounces Siegfried. But at a hunting ban- 
quet Siegfried is given another magic draught, remem- 
bers all, and is slain by Hagan by a blow in the back, as 
he calls on Brunhild's name in love. Then comes the 
end. The body of Siegfried is burned on a funeral 
pyre, a grand funeral march is heard, and Brunhild 
rides into the flames and sacrifices herself for love's 
sake ; the ring goes back to the Rhine-daughters ; and 
the old world of the gods of Valhalla, of passion and 
sin is burnt up with flames, for the gods have broken 
moral law, and coveted power rather than love, gold 
rather than truth, and therefore must perish. They pass, 
and a new era, the reign of love and truth, has begun. 

Those who wish to study the differences in the legends 
of the Nibelungen Lied and the Nibelungen Ring, and 
the way in which Wagner used his ancient material, are 
referred to Professor W. C. Sawyer's book on "Teu- 
tonic Legends in the Nibelungen Lied and the Nibe- 
lungen Ring," where the matter is treated in full detail. 
For a very thorough and clear analysis of the Ring as 
Wagner gives it, with a study of the musical motifs, 
probably nothing is better for general re^d^rs than 
the volume "The Epic of Sounds," by Freda Winworth. 
The more scholarly work of Professor Lavi^nac is indis- 
pensable for the student of Wagner's dramas. There 
is much illuminating comment on the sources and ma- 
terials in "Legends of the Wagner Drama" by J. L. 
Weston. 



358 STORIES OK GODS AND HEROES 

CHAPTER XLI 

THE DRUIDS lONA 

DRUIDS 

The Druids were the priests or ministers of religion 
among the ancient CeUic nations in Gaul, Britain, and 
Germany. Our information respecting them is bor- 
rowed from notices in the Greek and Roman writers, 
compared with the remains of Welsh and Gaelic poetry 
still extant. 

The Druids combined the functions of the priest, the 
magistrate, the scholar, and the physician. They stood 
to the people of the Celtic tribes in a relation closely 
analogous to that in which the Brahmans of India, the 
Magi of Persia, and the priests of the Egyptians stood 
to the people respectively by whom they were revered. 

The Druids taught the existence of one god, to whom 
they gave a name "Be' al," which Celtic antiquaries tell 
us means "the life of everything," or "the source of all 
beings," and which seems to have affinity with the 
Phoenician Baal. What renders this affinity more strik- 
ing is that the Druids as well as the Phoenicians identi- 
fied this, their supreme deity, with the Sun. Fire was 
regarded as a symbol of the divinity. The Latin writers 
assert that the Druids also worshipped numerous in- 
ferior gods. 

They used no images to represent the object of their 
worship, nor did they meet in teni|*les or buildings of 
any kind for the performance of their sacred rites. A 
circle of stones (each stone generally of vast size), en- 
closing an area of from twenty feet to thirty yards in 
diameter, constituted their sacred place. The most cele- 
brated of these now remaining is Stonehenge, on Salis- 
bury Plain, England. 

These sacred circles were generally situated near 
some stream, or under the shadow of a grove or wide- 
spreading oak. In the centre of the circle stood the 



DRUIDS 359 

Cromlech or altar, which was a large stone, placed in 
the manner of a table upon other stones set up on end. 
The Druids had also their high places, which were 
large stones or piles of stones on the summits of hills. 
These were called Cairns, and were used in the worship 
of the deity under the symbol of the sun. 

That the Druids offered sacrifices to their deity there 
can be no doubt. But there is some uncertainty as to 
what they offered, and of the ceremonies connected with 
their religious services we know almost nothing. The 
classical (Roman) writers affirm that they offered on 
great occasions human sacrifices; as for success in war 
or for relief from dangerous diseases. Cassar has given 
a detailed account of the manner in which this was done. 
"They have images of immense size, the limbs of which 
are framed with twisted twigs and filled with living per- 
sons. These being set on fire, those within are encom- 
passed by the flames." Many attempts have been made 
by Celtic writers to shake the testimony of the Roman 
historians to this fact, but without success. 

The Druids observed two festivals in each year. The 
former took place in the beginning of May, and was 
called Beltane or "fire of God." On this occasion a 
large fire was kindled on some elevated spot, in honor 
of the sun, whose returning beneficence they thus wel- 
comed after the gloom and desolation of winter. Of 
this custom a trace remains in the name given to Whit- 
sunday in parts of Scotland to this day. Sir Walter 
Scott uses the word in the "Boat Song" in the "Lady 
of the Lake" : 

"Ours is no sapling, chance sown by the fountain, 
Blooming at Beltane in winter to fade ;" etc. 

The other great festival of the Druids was called 
"Samh'in," or "fire of peace," and was held on Hallow- 
eve (first of November), which still retains this designa- 
tion in the Llighlands of Scotland. On this occasion the 
Druids assembled in solemn conclave, in the most cen- 
tral part of the district, to discharge the judicial func- 
tions of their order. All cjuestions, whether public or 



360 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

private, all crimes against person or property, were at 
this time brought before them for adjudication. With 
these judicial acts were combined certain superstitious 
usages, especially the kindling of the sacred fire, from 
which all the fires in the district, which had been before- 
hand scrupulously extinguished, might be relighted. This 
usage of kindling fires on Hallow-eve lingered in the 
British islands long after the establishment of Chris- 
tianity. 

Besides these two great annual festivals, the Druids 
were in the habit of observing the full moon, and espe- 
cially the sixth day of the moon. On the latter they 
sought the Mistletoe, which grew on their favorite oaks, 
and to which, as well as to the oak itself, they ascribed 
a peculiar virtue and sacredness. The discover}^ of it 
was an occasion of rejoicing and solemn worship. 
"They call it," says Pliny, "by a word in their language, 
which means 'heal-all,' and having made solemn prep- 
aration for feasting and sacrifice under the tree, they 
drive thither two milk-white bulls, whose horns are then 
for the first time bound. The priest then, robed in 
white, ascends the tree, and cuts off the mistletoe with 
a golden sickle. It is caught in a white mantle, after 
which they proceed to slay the victims, at the same time 
praying that God would render his gift prosperous to 
those to whom he had given it." They drink the water 
in which it has been infused, and think it a remedy for 
all diseases. The mistletoe is a parasitic plant, and is 
not always nor often found on the oak, so that when 
it is found it is the more precious. 

The Druids were the teachers of morality as well as 
of religion. Of their ethical teaching a valuable speci- 
men is preserved in the Triads of the Welsh Bards, 
and from this we may gather that their views of moral 
rectitude were on the whole just, and that they held 
and inculcated many very noble and valuable principles 
of conduct. They were also the men of science and 
learning of their age and people. Whether they were 
acquainted with letters or not has been disputed, though 
the probability is strong that they were, to some extent. 
But it is certain that they committed nothing of their 



DRUIDS , 361 

doctrine, their history, or their poetry to writing. Their 
teaching was oral, and their literature (if such a word 
may be used in such a case) was preserved solely by 
tradition. But the Roman writers admit that "they paid 
much attention to the order and laws of nature, and in- 
vestigated and taught to the youth under their charge 
many things concerning the stars and their motions, the 
size of the world and the lands, and concerning the 
might and power of the immortal gods." 

Their history consisted in traditional tales, in which 
the heroic deeds of their forefathers were celebrated. 
These were apparently in verse, and thus constituted 
part of the poetry as well as the history of the Druids. 
In the poems of Ossian we have, if not the actual pro- 
ductions of Druidical times, what may be considered 
faithful representations of the songs of the Bards. 

The Bards were an essential part of the Druidical 
hierarchy. One author, Pennant, says, "The Bards 
were supposed to be endowed with powers equal to 
inspiration. They were the oral historians of all past 
transactions, public and private. They were also ac- 
complished genealogists," etc. 

Pennant gives a minute account of the Eisteddfods 
or sessions of the Bards and minstrels, which were held 
in Wales for many centuries, long after the Druidical 
priesthood in its other departments became extinct. At 
these meetings none but Bards of merit were suffered to 
rehearse their pieces, and minstrels of skill to perform.' 
Judges were appointed to decide on their respective 
rbilities, and suitable degrees were conferred. In the 
earlier period the judges were appointed by the Welsh 
princes, and after the conquest of Wales, by commis- 
sion from the kings of England. Yet the tradition is 
that Edward I., in revenge for the influence of the 
Bards in animating the resistance of the people to his 
sway, persecuted them with great cruelty. This tra- 
dition has furnished the poet Gray with the subject of 
his celebrated ode, the "Bard." 

There are still occasional meetings of the lovers of 
vVelsh poetry and music, held under the ancient name. 
Among Mrs. Hcmans' poems is one written for an 



362 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

Eisteddfod, or meeting of Welsh Bards, held in Lon- 
don, May 22, 1822. It begins with a description of 
the ancient meeting, of which the following lines are a 
part: 

". . . midst the eternal cliffs, whose strength defied 
The crested Roman in his hour of pride; 
And where the Druid's ancient cromlech frowned, 
And the oaks breathed mysterious murmurs round, 
There thronged the inspired of yore ! on plain or height, 
In the sun's face, beneath the eye of light, 
And baring unto heaven each noble head, 
Stood in the circle, where none else might tread." 

The Driiidical system was at its height at the time 
of the Roman invasion under Julius Caesar. Against 
the Druids, as their chief enemies, these conquerors of 
the v/orld directed their unsparing fury. The Druids, 
harassed at all points on the mainland, retreated to 
Anglesey and lona, where for a season they found shel- 
ter and continued their now dishonored rites. 

The Druids retained their predominance in lona and 
over the adjacent islands and mainland until they were 
supplanted and their superstitions overturned by the 
arrival of St. Columba, the apostle of the Highlands, 
by whom the inhabitants of that district were first led 
to profess Christianity. 

lONA 

One of the smallest of the British Isles, situated near 
a rugged and barren coast, surrounded by dangerous 
seas, and possessing no sources of internal wealth, lona 
has obtained an imperishable place/ in history as the 
seat of civilization and religion at a time when the 
darkness of heathenism hung over almost the whole of 
Northern Europe. lona or Icolmkill is situated at the 
extremity of the island of Mull, from which it is sep- 
arated by a strait of half a mile in breadth, its distance 
from the mainland of Scotland being thirty-six miles. 

Columba was a native of Ireland, and connected by 
birth with the princes of the land. Ireland was at 
that time a land of gospel light, while the vv'estern and 



lONA 363 

northern parts of Scotland were still immersed in the 
darkness of heathenism. Columba with twelve friends 
landed on the island of lona in the year of our Lord 
563, having made the passage in a wicker boat cov- 
ered with hides. The Druids who occupied the island 
endeavored to prevent his settling there, and the savage 
nations on the adjoining shores incommoded him with 
their hostility, and on several occasions endangered his 
life by their attacks. Yet by his perseverance and zeal 
he surmounted all opposition, procured from the king 
a gift of the island, and established there a monastery 
of which he was the abbot. He was unwearied in his 
labors to disseminate a knowledge of the Scriptures 
throughout the Highlands and islands of Scotland, and 
such was the reverence paid him that though not a 
bishop, but merely a presbyter and monk, the entire 
province with its bishops was subject to him and his 
successors. The Pictish monarch was so impressed with 
a sense of his wisdom and worth that he held him in 
the highest honor, and the neighboring chiefs and 
princes sought his counsel and availed themselves of 
his judgment in settling their disputes. 

When Columba landed on lona he was attended by 
twelve followers whom he had formed into a religious 
body of which he was the head. To these, as occa- 
sion required, others were from time to time added, so 
that the original number was always kept up. Their 
institution was called a monastery and the superior 
an abbot, but the system had little in common with the 
monastic institutions of later times. The name by which 
those who submitted to the rule were known was that 
of Culdees, probably from the Latin "cultores Dei" 
worshippers of God. They were a body of religious 
persons associated together for the purpose of aiding 
each other in the common work of preaching the gos- 
pel and teaching youth, as well as maintaining in them- 
selves the fervor of devotion by united exercises of wor- 
ship. On entering the order certain vows were taken 
by the members, but they were not those which were 
usually imposed by monastic orders, for of these, which 
are three, celibacy, poverty, and obedience. the Cul- 



364 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

dees were bound to none except the third. To poverty 
they did not bind themselves ; on the contrary they seem 
to have labored diligently to procure for themselves and 
those dependent on them the comforts, of life. Mar- 
riage also was allowed them, and most of them seem 
to have entered into that state. True, their wives were 
not permitted to reside with them at the institution, but 
they had a residence assigned to them in an adjacent 
locality. Near lona there is an island which still bears the 
name of "Eilen nam ban," women's island, where their 
husbands seem to have resided with them, except when 
duty required their presence in the school or the sanc- 
tuary. 

Campbell, in his poem of "Reullura," alludes to the 
married monks of lona : 

". . . The pure Culdees 

Were Albyn's earliest priests of God, 
Ere yet an island of her seas 

By foot of Saxon monk was trod, 
Long ere her churchmen by bigotry 
Were barred from holy wedlock's tie. 
'Twas then that Aodh, famed afar, 

In lona preached the word with power, 
And Reullura, beauty's star, 

Was the partner of his bower." 

In one of his "Irish Melodies," Moore gives the leg- 
end of St. Senanus and the lady who sought shelter on 
the island, but was repulsed: 

"O, haste and leave this sacred isle, 
Unholy bark, ere morning smile; 
For on thy deck, though dark it be, 

A female form I see ; / 
And I have sworn this sainted sod 
Shall ne'er by woman's foot be trod." 

In these respects and in others the Culdees departed 
from the established rules of the Romish church, and 
consequently were deemed heretical. The consequence 
was that as the power of the latter advanced that of the 
Culdees was enfeebled. It was not. however, till the 
thirteenth century that the communities of the Culdees 



lONA ' 365 

were suppressed and the members dispersed. They still 
continued to labor as individuals, and resisted the inroads 
of Papal usurpation as they best might till the light of 
the Reformation dawned on the world. 

lona, from its position in the western seas, was ex- 
posed to the assaults of the Norwegian and Danish rov- 
ers by whom those seas were infested, and by them it 
was repeatedly pillaged, its dwellings burned, and its 
peaceful inhabitants put to the sword. These unfav- 
orable circumstances led to its gradual decline, which 
was expedited by the subversion of the Culdees through- 
out Scotland. Under the reign of Popery the island 
became the seat of a nunnery, the ruins of which are 
still seen. At the Reformation, the nuns were allowed 
to remain, living in community, when the abbey was 
dismantled. 

lona is now chiefly resorted to by travellers on ac- 
count of the numerous ecclesiastical and sepulchral re- 
mains which are found upon it. The principal of these 
are the Cathedral or Abbey Church and the Chapel of 
the Nunnery. Besides these remains of ecclesiastical 
antiquity, there are some of an earlier date, and point- 
ing to the existence on the island of forms of worship 
and belief different from those of Christianity. These 
are the circular Cairns which are found in various parts, 
and which seem to have been of Druidical origin. It is 
in reference to all these remains of ancient religion that 
Johnson exclaims, "That man is little to be envied whose 
patriotism would not gain force upon the plains of 
Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer amid 
the ruins of lona." 

In the "Lord of the Isles" Scott beautifully contrasts 
the church on lona with the cave of Staffa, opposite : 

"Nature herself, it seemed, would raise 
A minister to her Maker's praise! 
Not for a meaner use ascend 
Her columns, or her arches bend; 
Nor of a theme less solemn tells 
That mighty surge that ebbs and swells, 
And still between each awful pause, 
From the high vault an answer draws. 



366 STORIES OF GODS AND HEROES 

In varied tone, prolonged and high, 

That mocks the organ's melody; 

Nor doth its entrance front in vain 

To old lona's holy fane. 

That Nature's voice might seem to say, 

Well hast thou done, frail child of clay ! 

Thy humble powers that stately shrine 

Tasked high and hard but witness mine!" 



KING ARTHUR AND HIS 
KNIGHTS 



CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION 

On the decline of the Roman power, about five cen- 
turies after Christ, the countries of Northern Europe 
were left almost destitute of a national government. 
Numerous chiefs, more or less powerful, held local 
sway, as far as each could enforce his dominion, and 
occasionally those chiefs would unite for a common 
object; but, in ordinary times, they were much more 
likely to be found in hostility to one another. In such 
a state of things the rights of the humbler classes of 
society were at the mercy of every assailant ; and it is 
plain that, without some check upon the lawless power 
of the chiefs, society must have relapsed into barbarism. 
Such checks were found, first, in the rivalry of the chiefs 
themselves, whose mutual jealousy made them restraints 
upon one another; secondly, in the influence of the 
Church, which, by every motive, pure or selfish, was 
pledged to interpose for the protection of the weak ; 
and lastly, in the generosity and sense of right which, 
however crushed under the weight of passion and 
selfishness, dwell naturally in the heart of man. From 
this last source sprang Chivalry, which framed an ideal 
of the heroic character, combining invincible strength 
and valor, justice, modesty, loyalty to superiors, cour- 
tesy to equals, compassion to weakness, and devotedness 
to the Church ; an ideal which, if never met with in real 
life, was 'acknowledged by all as the highest model for 
emulation, 

367 



368 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

The word "Chivalry" is derived from the French 
"cheval," a horse. The word "knight," which origi- 
nally meant boy or servant, was particularly applied to 
a young man after he was admitted to the privilege 
of bearing arms. This privilege was conferred on youths 
of family and fortune only, for the mass of the people 
were not furnished with arms. The knight then was 
a mounted warrior, a man of rank, or in the service 
and maintenance of some man of rank, generally pos- 
sessing some independent means of support, but often 
relying mainly on the gratitude of those whom he served 
for the supply of his wants, and often, no doubt, re- 
sorting to the means which power confers on its pos- 
sessor. 

In time of war the knight was, with his followers, 
in the camp of his sovereign, or commanding in the 
field, or holding some castle for him. In time of peace 
he was often in attendance at his sovereign's court, 
gracing with his presence the banquets and tournaments 
with which princes cheered their leisure. Or he was 
traversing the country in quest of adventure, professedly 
bent on redressing wrongs and enforcing rights, some- 
times in fulfilment of some vow of religion or of love. 
These wandering knights were called knights-errant ; 
they were welcome guests in the castles of the no- 
bility, for their presence enlivened the dulness of those 
secluded abodes, and they were received with honor 
at the abbeys, which often owed the best part of their 
revenues to the patronage of the knights ; but if no 
castle or abbey or hermitage were at hand their hardy 
habits made it not intolerable to them to lie down, 
supperless, at the foot of some way/ide cross, and pass 
the night. 

It is evident that the justice administered by such an 
instrumentality must have been of the rudest descrip- 
tion. The force whose legitimate purpose was to re- 
dress wrongs might easily be perverted to inflict them. 
Accordingly, we find in the romances, which, however 
fabulous in facts, are true as pictures of manners, that 
a knightly castle was often a terror to the surrounding 
country; that is, dungeons were full of oppressed 




KING ARTHURS STATUE AT INNSBRUCK. 
From a photograph. 




THE BEGUILING OF MERLIN. 
From painting by Sir Edwin Burne-Jones, 



INTRODUCTION 369 

knights and ladies, waiting for some champion to appear 
to set them free, or to be ransomed with money ; that 
hosts of idle retainers were ever at hand to enforce 
their lord's behests, regardless of law and justice; and 
that the rights of the unarmed multitude were of no 
account. This contrariety of fact and theory in regard 
to chivalry will account for the opposite impressions 
which exist in men's minds respecting it. While it has 
been the theme of the most fervid eulogium on the one 
part, it has been as eagerly denounced on the other. 
On a cool estimate, we cannot but see reason to con- 
gratulate ourselves that it has given way in modern 
times to the reign of law, and that the civil magistrate, 
if less picturesque, has taken the place of the mailed 
champion. 

THE TRAINING OF A KNIGHT 

The preparatory education of candidates for knight- 
hood was long and arduous. At seven years of age 
the noble children were usually removed from their 
father's house to the court or castle of- their future 
patron, and placed under the care of a governor, who 
taught them the first articles of religion, and respect 
and reverence for their lords and superiors, and initiated 
them in the ceremonies of a court. They were called 
pag^es, valets, or varlcts, and their office was to car\'e, 
to wait at table, and to perform other menial services, 
which were not then considered humiliating. In theit 
leisure hours they learned to dance and play on the harp, 
were instructed in the mysteries of zuoods and rivers, 
that is, in hunting, falconry, and fishing, and in wrest- 
ling, tilting with spears, and performing other military 
exercises on horseback. At fourteen the page became 
an esquire, and began a course of severer and more 
laborious exercises. To vault on a horse in heavy 
armor; to run, to scale walls, and spring over ditches, 
under the same encumbrance ; to wrestle, to wield the 
battle-axe for a length of time, without raising the visor 
or taking breath ; to perform with grace all tlie evolu- 
tions of horsemanship, were necessary preliminaries to 



370 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

the reception of knighthood, which was usually conferred 
at twenty-one years of age, when the young man's edu- 
cation was supposed to be completed. In the mean- 
time, the esquires were no less assiduously engaged in 
acquiring all those refinements of civility which formed 
what was in that age called courtesy. The same castle 
in which they received their education was usually 
thronged with young persons of the other sex, and the 
page was encouraged, at a very early age, to select 
some lady of the court as the mistress of his heart, 
to whom he was taught to refer all his sentiments, words, 
and actions. The service of his mistress was the glory 
and occupation of a knight, and her smiles, bestowed at 
once by affection and gratitude, were held out as the 
recompense of his well-directed valor. Religion united 
its influence with those of loyalty and love, and the 
order of knighthood, endowed with all the sanctity and 
religious awe that attended the priesthood, became an 
object of ambition to the greatest sovereigns. 

The ceremonies of initiation were peculiarly solemn. 
After undergoing a severe fast, and spending whole 
nights in prayer, the candidate confessed, and received 
the sacrament. He then clothed himself in snow-white 
garments, and repaired to the church, or the hall, where 
the ceremony was to take place, bearing a knightly 
sword suspended from his neck, which the officiating 
priesif took and blessed, and then returned to ,him. The 
candidate then, with folded arms, knelt before the pre- 
siding knight, who, after some questions about his mo- 
tives and purposes in requesting admission, adminis- 
tered to him the oaths, and granted bis request. Some 
of the knights present, sometimes even ladies and dam- 
sels, handed to him in succession the spurs, the coat of 
mail, the hauberk, the armlet and gauntlet, and lastly 
he girded on the sword. He then knelt again before 
the president, who, rising from his seat, gave him the 
"accolade," which consisted of three strokes, with the 
flat of a sword, on the shoulder or neck of the can- 
didate, accompanied by the words : "In the name of 
God, of St. Michael, and St. George, I make thee a 
knight ; be valiant, courteous, and loyal !" Then he re- 



INTRODUCTION 371 

ceived his helmet, his shield, and spear; and thus the 
investiture ended. 



FREEMEN, VILLAINS, SERFS, AND CLERKS 

The other classes of which society was composed 
were, first, freemen, owners of small portions of land 
independent, though they sometimes voluntarily became 
the vassals of their more opulent neighbors, whose 
power was necessary for their protection. The other 
two classes, which were much the most numerous, were 
either serfs or villains, both of which were slaves. 

The serfs were in the lowest state of slavery. All 
the fruits of their labor belonged to the master whose 
land they tilled, and by whom they were fed and clothed. 

The villains were less degraded. Their situation 
seems to have resembled that of the Russian peasants 
at this day. Like the serfs, they were attached to the 
soil, and were transferred with it by purchase ; but they 
paid only a fixed rent to the landlord, and had a 
right to dispose of any surplus that might arise from 
their industry. 

The term "clerk" was of very extensive import. It 
comprehended, originally, such persons only as belonged 
to the clergy, or clerical order, among whom, however, 
might be found a multitude of married persons, artisans 
or others. But in process of time a much wider rule 
was established ; every one that could read being ac- 
counted a clerk or clericus, and allowed the "benefit 
of clergy," that is, exemption from capital and some 
other forms of punishment, in case of crime. 



TOURNAMENTS 

The splendid pageant of a tournament between 
knights, its gaudy accessories and trappings, and its 
chivalrous regulations, originated in France. Tourna- 
ments were repeatedly condemned by the Church, 
probably on account of the quarrels they led to, and 
the often fatal results. The "joust," or "just," was 



372 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

different from the tournament. In these, knights fought 
with their lances, and their object was to unhorse their 
antagonists; while the tournaments were intended for 
a display of skill and address in evolutions, and with 
various weapons, and greater courtesy was observed in 
the regulations. By these it was forbidden to wound 
the horse, or to use the point of the sword, or to strike 
a knight after he had raised his vizor, or unlaced his 
helmet. The ladies encouraged their knights in these 
exercises; they bestowed prizes, and the conqueror's 
feats were the theme of romance and song. The stands 
overlooking the ground, of course, were varied in the 
shapes of towers, terraces, galleries, and pensile gardens, 
magnificently decorated with tapestry, pavilions, and 
banners. Every combatant proclaimed the name of the 
lady whose servant d' amour he was. He was wont to 
look up to the stand, and strengthen his courage by 
the sight of the bright eyes that were raining their in- 
fluence on him from above. The knights also carried 
favors, consisting of scarfs, veils, sleeves, bracelets, 
clasps, in short, some piece of female habiliment, at- 
tached to their helmets, shields, or armor. If, during 
the combat, any of these appendages were dropped or 
lost the fair donor would at times send her knight new 
ones, especially if pleased with his exertions. 

MAIL ARMOR 

Mail armor, of which the hauberk is a species, and 
which derived its name from maille, a French word for 
mesh, was of two kinds, plate or scale mail, and chain 
mail. It was originally used for the^ protection of the 
body only, reaching no lower than the knees. It was 
shaped like a carter's frock, and bound round the waist 
by a girdle. Gloves and hose of mail were afterwards 
added, and a hood, which, when necessary, was drawn 
over the head, leaving the face alone uncovered. To 
protect the skin from the impression of the iron net- 
work of the chain mail, a quilted lining was employed, 
which, however, was insufficient, and the bath was used 
to efface the marks of the armor. 



INTRODUCTION Z7Z 

The hauberk was a complete covering of double chain 
mail. Some hauberks opened before, like a modern 
coat; others were closed like a shirt. 

The chain mail of which they were composed was 
formed by a number of iron links, each link having 
others inserted into it, the whole exhibiting a kind of 
network, of which (in some instances at least) the 
meshes were circular, with each link separately riveted. 

The hauberk was proof against the most violent blow 
of a sword ; but the point of a lance might pass through 
the meshes, or drive the iron into the flesh. To guard 
against this, a thick and well-stuffed doublet was worn 
underneath, under which was commonly added an iron 
breastplate. Hence the expression "to pierce both plate 
and mail," so common in the earlier poets. 

Mail armor continued in general use till about the 
year 1300, when it was gradually supplanted by plate 
armor, or suits consisting of pieces or plates of solid 
iron, adapted to the different parts of the body. 

Shields were generally made of wood, covered with 
leather, or some similar substance. To secure them, in 
some sort, from being cut through by the sword, they 
were surrounded with a hoop of metal. 

HELMETS 

The helmet was composed of two parts : the head- 
piece, which was strengthened within by several circles 
of iron, and the visor, which, as the name implies, was 
a sort of grating to see through, so contrived as, by 
sliding in a groove, or turning on a pivot, to be raised 
or lowered at pleasure. Some helmets had a further 
improvement called a bever, from th-e Italian bevere, to 
drink. The vcntayle, or "air-passage," is another name 
for this. 

To secure the helmet from the possibility of falling, 
or of being struck off, it was tied by several laces to 
the meshes of the hauberk ; consequently, when a knight 
was overthrown it was necessary to undo these laces 
before he could be put to death ; though this was some- 
times effected by lifting up the skirt of the hauberk, 



374 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

and stabbing him in the belly. The instrument of death 
was a small dagger, worn on the right side. 

ROMANCES 

In ages when there were no books, when noblemen 
and princes themselves could not read, history or tra- 
dition was monopolized by the story-tellers. They in- 
herited, generation after generation, the wondrous tales 
of their predecessors, which they retailed to the public 
with such additions of their own as their acquired in- 
formation supplied them with. Anachronisms became 
of course very common, and errors of geography, of lo- 
cality, of manners, equally so. Spurious genealogies 
were invented, in which Arthur and his knights, and 
Charlemagne and his paladins, were made to derive their 
descent from ^neas, Hector, or some other of the 
Trojan heroes. 

With regard to the derivation of the word "Romance," 
we trace it to the fact that the dialects which were 
formed in Western Europe, from the admixture of 
Latin with the native languages, took the name of 
Langue Romaine. The French language was divided 
into two dialects'. The river Loire was their common 
boundary. In the provinces to the south of that river 
the affirmative, yes, was expressed by the word oc; in 
the north it was called oil (oiii) ; and hence Dante has 
named the southern language langue d'oc, and the north- 
ern langue d'oil. The latter, which was carried into 
England by the Normans, and is the origin of the pres- 
ent French, may be called the French Romane ; and 
the former the Proven(;al, or Provencial Romane, be- 
cause it was spoken by the people of Provence and 
Languedoc, southern provinces of France. 

These dialects were soon distinguished by very op- 
posite characters. A soft and enervating climate, a 
spirit of commerce encouraged by an easy communica- 
tion with other maritime nations, the influx of wealth, 
and a more settled government, may have tended to 
polish and soften the diction of the Provencials, whose 
ooets, under the name of Troubadours, were the mas- 



INTRODUCTION ^ 375 

ters of the Italians, and particularly of Petrarch. Their 
favorite pieces were Sirveiites (satirical pieces), love- 
songs, and Tensons, which last were a sort of dialogue 
in verse between two poets, who questioned each other 
on some refined points of loves' casuistry. It seems the 
Provencials were so completely absorbed in these deli- 
cate questions as to neglect and despise the composition 
of fabulous histories of adventure and knighthood, which 
they left in a great measure to the poets of the north- 
ern part of the kingdom, called Trouveurs. 

At a time when chivalry excited universal admira- 
tion, and when all the efforts of that chivalry were 
directed against the enemies of religion, it was natural 
that literature should receive the same impulse, and 
that history and fable should be ransacked to furnish 
examples of courage and piety that might excite in- 
creased emulation. Arthuf and Charlemagne were the 
two heroes selected for this purpose. Arthur's preten- 
sions were that he was a brave, though not always a 
successful warrior; he had withstood with great resolu- 
tion the arms of the infidels, that is to say of the Saxons, 
and his memory was held in the highest estimation by 
his countrymen, the Britons, who carried with them into 
Wales, and into the kindred country of Armorica, or 
Brittany, the memory of his exploits, which their na- 
tional vanity insensibly exaggerated, till the little prince 
of the Silures (South Wales) was magnified into the 
conqueror of England, of Gaul, and of the greater part 
of Europe. His genealogy was gradually carried up to 
an imaginary Brutus, and to the period of the Trojan 
war, and a sort of chronicle was composed in the Welsh, 
or Armorican language, which, under the pompous title 
of the "History of the Kings of Britain," was translated 
into Latin by Geoffrey of Monmouth, about the year 
1150. The Welsh critics consider the material of the 
work to have been an older history, written by St. Talian, 
Bishop of St. Asaj)h, in the seventh century. 

As to Charlemagne, though his real merits were suf- 
ficient to secure his immortality, it was imi)0ssible tb.at 
his holy zvars against the Saracens should not ])ecome 
a favorite topic for liction. Accordingly, the fabulous 



376 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

history of these wars was written, probably towards 
the close of the eleventh century, by a monk, who. think- 
ing it would add dignity to his work to embellish it with 
a contemporary name, boldly ascribed it to Turpin, who 
was Archbishop of Rheims about the year 773. 

These fabulous chronicles were for a while impris- 
oned in languages of local only or of professional ac- 
cess. Both Turpin and Geoffrey might indeed be read 
by ecclesiastics, the sole Latin scholars of those times, 
and Geoffrey's British original would contribute to the 
gratification of Welshmen ; but neither could become 
extensively popular till translated into some language of 
general and familiar use. The Anglo-Saxon was at that 
time used only by a conquered and enslaved nation; 
the Spanish and Italian languages were not yet formed; 
the Norman French alone was spoken and understood 
by the nobility in the greater part of Europe, and there- 
fore was a proper vehicle for the new mode of com- 
position. 

That language was fashionable in England before the 
Conquest, and became, after that event, the only lan- 
guage used at the court of London. As the various con- 
quests of the Normans, and the enthusiastic valor of 
that extraordinary people, had familiarized the minds of 
men with the most marv^ellous events, their poets eagerly 
seized the fabulous legends of Arthur and Charlemagne, 
translated them into the language of the day, and soon 
produced a variety of imitations. The adventures at- 
tributed to these monarchs, and to their distinguished 
warriors, together with those of many other traditionary 
or imaginary heroes, composed by degrees that formid- 
able body of marvellous histories which, from the dia- 
lect in which the most ancient of them were written, 
were called "Romances." 

METRICAL ROMANCES 

The earliest form in which romances appear is that 
of a rude kind of verse. In this form it is supposed 
they were sung or recited at the feasts of princes and 
knights in their baronial halls. The following specimen 



INTRODUCTION ^77 

of the language and style of Robert de Beauvais, who 
flourished in 1257, is from Sir Walter Scott's "Intro- 
duction to the Romance of Sir Tristrem" : 

"Ne voil pas emmi dire, 
Ici diverse la matyere, 
Entre ceus qui solent cunter, 
E de le cunte Tristran parler." 

"I will not say too much about it. 
So diverse is tlie matter, 
Among those who are in the habit of telling 
And relatmg the story of Tristran." 

This is a specimen of the language which was in 
use among the nobility of England, in the ages imme- 
diately after the Norman conquest. The following is 
a specimen of the English that existed at the same time, 
among the common people. Robert de Brunne, speak- 
ing of his Latin and French authorities, says : 

"Als thai haf wryten and sayd 
Haf I alle in myn Inglis layd, 
In symple speche as I couthe, 
That is lightest in manne's mouthe. 
Alle for the luf of symple men. 
That strange Inglis cannot ken." 

The "strange Inglis" being the language of the pre- 
vious specimen. 

It was not till toward the end of the thirteenth cen- 
tury that the prose romances began to appear. These 
works generally began with disowning and discrediting 
the sources from which in reality they drew their sole 
information. As every romance was supposed to be a 
real history, the compilers of those in prose would have 
forfeited all credit if they had announced themselves as 
mere copyists of the minstrels. On the contrary, they 
usually state that, as the popular poems upon the mat- 
ter in question contain many "lesings," they had been 
induced to translate the real and true history of such 
or such a knight from the original Latin or Greek, or 
from the ancient British or Armorican authorities, 
which authorities existed only in their own assertion. 



378 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

A specimen of the style of the prose romances may 
be found in the following extract from one of the most 
celebrated and latest of them, the "Morte d'Arthur" 
of Sir Thomas Mallory, of the date of 1485. From 
this work much of the contents of this volume has been 
drawn, with as close an adherence to the original style 
as was thought consistent with our plan of adapting 
our narrative to the taste of modern readers. 

"It is notoyrly knowen thorugh the vnyuersal world 
that there been ix worthy and the best that ever were. 
That is to wete thre paynyms, three Jewes, and three 
crysten men. As for the paynyms, they were tofore 
the Incarnacyon of Cryst whiche were named, the fyrst 
Hector of Troye; the second Alysaunder the grete, and 
the thyrd Julyus Cezar, Emperour of Rome, of whome 
thystoryes ben wel kno and had. And as for the 
thre Jewes whyche also were tofore thyncarnacyon of 
our Lord, of whome the fyrst was Due Josue, whyche 
brought the chyldren of Israhel into the londe of be- 
heste; the second Dauyd, kyng of Jherusalem, and the 
thyrd Judas Macha1:>eus ; of these thre the byble re- 
lierceth al theyr noble hystoryes and actes. And sythe 
the sayd Incarnacyon haue ben the noble crysten men 
stalled and admytted thorugh the vnyuersal world to 
the nombre of the ix beste and worthy, of whome was 
fyrst the noble Arthur, Avhose noble actes I purpose to 
wryte in this person book here folowyng. The second 
was Charlemayn, or Charles the grete, of whome thy- 
storye is had in many places both in frensshe and eng- 
lysshe, and the thyrd and last was Godefray of boloyn." 



CHAPTER II 

THE MYTHICAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND 

The illustrious poet, Milton, in his "History of Eng- 
land," is the author whom we chiefly follow in this 
chapter. 



MYTHICAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND 379 

According to the earliest accounts, Albion, a giant, 
and son of Neptune, a contemporary of Hercules, ruled 
over the island, to which he gave his name. Presuming 
to oppose the progress of Hercules in his western march, 
he was slain by him. 

Another story is that Kistion, the son of Japhet, the 
son of Noah, had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Aleman- 
nus, and Britto, from whom descended the French, Ro- 
man, German, and British people. 

Rejecting these and other like stories, Milton gives 
more regard to the story of Brutus, the Trojan, which, 
he says, is supported by "descents of ancestry long con- 
tinued, laws and exploits not plainly seeming to be bor- 
rowed or devised, which on the common belief have 
wrought no small impression; defended by many, de- 
nied utterly by few." The principal authority is Geoffrey 
of Monmouth, whose history, written in the twelfth 
century, purports to be a translation of a history of 
Britain brought over from the opposite shore of France, 
which, under the name of Brittany, was chiefly peopled 
by natives of Britain who, from time to time, emigrated 
thither, driven from their own country Ijy the inroads 
of the Picts and Scots. According to this authority, 
Brutus was the son of Silvius, and he of Ascanius, the 
son of .-Eneas, whose flight from Troy and settlement 
in Italy are narrated in "Stories of Gods and Heroes." 

Brutus, at the age of fifteen, attending his father to 
the chase, unfortunately killed him with an arrow. Ban- 
ished therefor by his kindred, he sought refuge in that 
part of Greece where Helenus, with a band of Trojan 
exiles, had become established. But Helenus was now 
dead and the descendants of the Trojans were oppressed 
by Pandrasus, the king of the country. Brutus, being 
kindly received among them, so throve in virtue and 
in arms as to win the regard of all the eminent of the 
land above all others of his age. In consequence of this 
the Trojans not only began to hope, Init secretly to 
persuade him to lead them the way to lil^erty. To en- 
courage them, they had the promise of help from As- 
saracus, a noble Greek youth, whose mother was a 
Trojan. He had suffered wrong at the hands of the 



380 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

king, and for that reason the more willingly cast in his 
lost with the Trojan exiles. 

Choosing a fit opportunity, Brutus with his country- 
men withdrew to the woods and hills, as the safest place 
from which to expostulate, and sent this message to 
Pandrasus : "That the Trojans, holding it unworthy of 
their ancestors to serve in a foreign land, had retreated 
to the woods, choosing rather a savage life than a slav- 
ish one. If that displeased him, then, with his leave, 
they would depart to some other country." Pandrasus, 
not expecting so bold a message from the sons of 
captives, went in pursuit of them, with such forces as 
he could gather, and met them on the banks of the 
Achelous, where Brutus got the advantage, and took 
the king captive. The result was, that the terms de- 
manded by the Trojans were granted ; the king gave 
his daughter Imogen in marriage to Brutus, and fur- 
nished shipping, money, and fit provision for them all 
to depart from the land. 

The marriage being solemnized, and shipping from all 
parts got together, the Trojans, in a fleet of no less 
than three hundred and twenty sail, betook themselves 
to the sea. On the third day they arrived at a certain 
island, which they found destitute of inhabitants, though 
there were appearances of former habitation, and among 
the ruins a temple of Diana. Brutus, here performing 
sacrifice at the shrine of the goddess, invoked an oracle 
for his guidance, in these lines : 

"Goddess of shades, and huntress, who at will 
Walk'st on the rolling sphere, and through the deep; 
On thy third realm, the earth, look now, and tell 
What land, what seat of rest, thou bidd'st me seek; 
What certain seat where I may worship thee 
For aye, with temples vowed and virgin choirs." 

To whom, sleeping before the altar, Diana in a vision 
thus answered : 

"Brutus! far to the west, in the ocean wide, 
Beyond the realm of Gaul, a land there lies, 
Seagirt it lies, where giants dwelt of old ; 
Now, void, it fits thy people : thither bend 



MYTHICAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND 381 

Thy course; there shalt thou find a lasting seat; 
There to thy sons another Troy liall rise, 
And kings be bom of thee, whose dreaded might 
Shall awe the world, and conquer nations bold." 

Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by divine direc- 
tion, sped his course towards the west, and, arriving at 
a place on the Tyrrhene sea, found there the descend- 
ants of certain Trojans who, with Antenor, came into 
Italy, of whom Corineus was the chief. These joined 
company, and the ships pursued their way till they ar- 
rived at the mouth of the river Loire, in France, where 
the expedition landed, with a view to a settlement, but 
were so rudely assaulted by the inhabitants that they 
put to sea again, and arrived at a part of the coast of 
Britain, now called Devonshire, where Brutus felt con- 
vinced that he had found the promised end of his voy- 
age, landed his colony, and took possession. 

The island, not yet Britain, but Albion, was in a man- 
ner desert and inhospitable, occupied only by a remnant 
of the giant race whose excessive force and tyranny 
had destroyed the others. The Trojans encountered 
these and extirpated them, Corineus, in particular, sig- 
nalizing himself by his exploits against them; from 
whom Cornwall takes its name, for that region fell to 
his lot, and there the hugest giants dwelt, lurking in 
rocks and caves, till Corineus rid the land of them. 

Brutus built his capital city, and called it Trojanova 
(New Troy), changed in time to Trinovantus, now Lon- 
don;^ and, having governed the isle twenty-four years, 
died, leaving three sons, Locrine, Albanact and Camber. 
Locrine had the middle part, Camber the west, called 
Cambria from him, and Albanact Albania, now Scotland. 
Locrine was married to Guendolen, the daughter of 
Corineus, but having seen a fair maid named Estrildis, 
who had been brought captive from Germany, he be- 
came enamoured of her, and had by her a daughter, 
whose name was Sabra. This matter was kept secret 
while Corineus lived, but after his death Locrine di- 

* "For noble Britons sprong from Trojans bold, 
And Troynovant was built of old Troy's ashes cold." 

Spenser, Book III., Canto IX., 38. 



382 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

vorced Guendolen, and made Estrildis his queen. Guen- 
dolen, all in rage, departed to Cornwall, where Madan, 
her son, lived, who had been brought up by Corineus, 
his grandfather. Gathering an army of her father's 
friends and subjects, she gave battle to her husband's 
forces and Locrine was slain. Guendolen caused her 
rival, Estrildis, with her daughter Sabra, to be thrown 
into the river, from which cause the river thenceforth 
bore the maiden's name, which by length of time is now 
changed into Sabrina or Severn. Milton alludes to this 
in his address to the rivers, 

"Severn swift, guilty of maiden's death"; 

and in his "Comus" tells the story with a slight varia- 
tion, thus : 

"There is a gentle nymph not far from hence, 
That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream; 
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure: 
Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine, 
That had the sceptre from his father, Brute, 
She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit 
Of her enraged step-dame, Guendolen, 
Commended her fair innocence to the flood. 
That stayed her flight with his cross-flowing course. 
The water-nymphs that in the bottom played, 
Held up their pearled wrists and took her in, 
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall. 
Who, piteous of her woes, reared her lank head, 
And gave her to his daughters to imbathe 
In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel, 
And through the porch and inlet of each sense 
Dropped in ambrosial oils till she revived, 
And underwent a quick, immortal change, 
Made goddess of the river," etc. / 

If our readers ask when all this took place, we must 
answer, in the first place, that mythology is not care- 
ful of dates ; and next, that, as Brutus was the great- 
grandson of ^neas, it must have been not far from a 
century subsequent to the Trojan war, or about eleven 
hundred years before the invasion of the island by Julius 
Caesar. This long interval is filled with the names of 
princes whose chief occupation was in warring with one 



MYTHICAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND 383 

another. Some few, whose names remain connected 
with places, or embalmed in literature, we will mention. 

BLADUD 

Bladud built the city of Bath, and dedicated the 
medicinal waters to Minerva. He was a man of great 
invention, and practised the arts of magic, till, having 
made him wings to fly, he fell down upon the temple 
of Apollo, in Trinovant, and so died, after twenty years' 



reign. 



LEIR 



Leir, who next reigned, built Leicester, and called it 
after his name. He had no male issue, but only three 
daughters. When grown old he determined to divide 
his kingdom among his daughters, and bestow them in 
marriage. But first, to try which of them loved him 
best, he determined to ask them solemnly in order, and 
judge of the warmth of their affection by their answers. 
Goneril, the eldest, knowing well her father's weakness, 
made answer that she loved him "above her soul." 
'Since thou so honorest my declining age," said the 
old man, "to thee and to thy husband I give the third 
part of my realm." Such good success for a few words 
soon uttered was ample instruction to Regan, the second 
daughter, what to say. She therefore to the same ques- 
tion replied that "she loved him more than all the world 
beside ;'' and so received an equal reward with her sis- 
ter. But Cordeilla, the youngest, and hitherto the best 
beloved, though having before her eyes the reward of a 
little easy soothing, and the loss likely to attend plain- 
dealing, yet was not moved from the solid purpose of 
a sincere and virtuous answer, and replied : "Father, my 
love towards you is as my duty bids. They who pre- 
tend beyond this flatter." When the old man, sorry to 
hear this, and wishing her to recall these words, per- 
sisted in asking, she still restrained her expressions so as 
to say rather less than more than the truth. Then Leir, 
all in a passion, burst forth : "Since thou hast not rev- 
erenced thy aged father like thy sisters, think not to 



384 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

have any part in my kingdom or what else I have;" 
and without delay, giving in marriage his other daugh- 
ters, Goneril to the Duke of Albany, and Regan to the 
Duke of Cornwall, he divides his kingdom between 
them, and goes to reside with his eldest daughter, at- 
tended only by a hundred knights. But in a short time 
his attendants, being complained of as too numerous 
and disorderly, are reduced to thirty. Resenting that 
affront, the old king betakes him to his second daughter ; 
but she, instead of soothing his wounded pride, takes 
part with her sister, and refuses to admit a retinue of 
more than five. Then back he returns to the other, who 
now will not receive him with more than one attendant. 
Then the remembrance of Cordeilla comes to his 
thoughts, and he takes his journey into France to seek 
her, with little hope of kind consideration from one 
whom he had so injured, but to pay her the last recom- 
pense he can render, confession of his injustice. When 
Cordeilla is informed of his approach, and of his sad 
condition, she pours forth true filial tears. And, not 
willing that her own or others' eyes should see him in 
that forlorn condition, she sends one of her trusted 
servants to meet him, and convey him privately to some 
comfortable abode, and to furnish him with such state 
as befitted his dignity. After which Cordeilla, with the 
king her husband, went in state to meet him, and, after 
an honorable reception, the king permitted his wife, 
Cordeilla, to go with an army and set her father again 
upon his throne. They prospered, subdued the wicked 
sisters and their consorts, and Leir obtained the crown 
and held it three years. Cordeilla succeeded him and 
reigned five years; but the sons af her sisters, after 
that, rebelled against her, and she lost both her crown 
and life. 

Shakspeare has chosen this story as the subject of 
his tragedy of "King Lear," varying its details in some 
respects. The madness of Leir, and the ill success of 
Cordeilla's attempt to reinstate her father, are the prin- 
cipal variations, and those in the names will also be 
noticed. Our narrative is drawn from Milton's "His- 
tory;" and thus the reader will perceive that the story 



MYTHICAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND 385 

of Leir has had the distinguished honor of being told 
by the two acknowledged chiefs of British literature. 

FERREX AND PORREX 

Ferrex and Porrex were brothers, who held the king- 
dom after Leir. They quarrelled about the supremacy, 
and Porrex expelled his brother, who, obtaining aid 
from Suard, king of the Franks, returned and made 
war upon Porrex. Ferrex was slain in battle and his 
forces dispersed. When their mother came to hear of 
her son's death, who was her favorite, she fell into a 
great rage, and conceived a mortal hatred against the 
survivor. She took, therefore, her opportunity when he 
was asleep, fell upon him, and, with the assistance of 
her women, tore him in pieces. This horrid story would 
not be worth relating, were it not for the fact that it 
has furnished the plot for the first tragedy which was 
written in the English language. It was entitled "Gor- 
boduc," but in the second edition "Ferrex and Porrex," 
and was the production of Thomas Sackville, afterwards 
Earl of Dorset, and Thomas Norton, a barrister. Its 
date was 1561. 

DUNWALLO MOLMUTIUS 

This is the next name of note. Molmutius established 
the Molmutine laws, which bestowed the privilege of 
sanctuary on temples, cities, and the roads leading to 
them, and gave the same protection to ploughs, extend- 
ing a religious sanction to the labors of the field. 
Shakspeare alludes to him in "Cymbeline," Act III., 
Scene 1 : 

". . . Molmutius made our laws ; 
Who was the first of Britain which did put 
His brows within a golden crown, and called 
Himself a king." 

BRENNUS AND BELINUS, 

the sons of Molmutius, succeeded him. They quar- 
relled, and Brennus was driven out of the island, and 
took refuge in Gaul, where he met with such favor 



386 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

from the king of the Allobroges that he gave him his 
daughter in marriage, and made him his partner on the 
throne. Brennus is the name which the Roman histo- 
rians give to the famous leader of the Gauls who took 
Rome in the time of Camillus. Geoffrey of Monmouth 
claims the glory of the conquest for the British prince, 
after he had become king of the Allobroges. 

ELIDURE 

After Belinus and Brennus there reigned several kings 
of little note, and then came Elidure. Arthgallo, his 
brother, being king, gave great offence to his powerful 
nobles, who rose against him, deposed him, and advanced 
Elidure to the throne. Arthgallo fled, and endeavored 
to find assistance in the neighboring kingdoms to rein- 
state him, but found none. Elidure reigned prosper- 
ously and wisely. After five years' possession of the 
kingdom, one day, when hunting, he met in the forest 
his brother, Arthgallo, Avho had been deposed. After 
long wandering, unable longer to bear the poverty to 
which he was reduced, he had returned to Britain, with 
only ten followers, designing to repair to those who had 
formerly been his friends. Elidure, at the sight of his 
brother in distress, forgetting all animosities, ran to 
him, and embraced him. He took Arthgallo home with 
him, and concealed him in the palace. After this he 
feigned himself sick, and, calling his nobles about him, 
induced them, partly by persuasion, partly by force, to 
consent to his abdicating the kingdom, and reinstating 
his brother on the throne. The agreement being ratified, 
Elidure took the crowii from his oym head, and put it 
on his brother's head. Arthgallo after this reigned ten 
years, well and wisely, exercisng strict justice towards 
all men. 

* He died, and left the kingdom to his sons, who reigned 
with various fortunes, but were not long-lived, and left 
no offspring, so that Elidure was again advanced to the 
throne, and finished the course of his life in just and 
virtuous actions, receiving the name of the pious, from 
the love and admiration of his subjects. 



MYTHICAL HISTORY OF ENGLAND 387 

Wordsworth has taken the story of Artegal and EH- 
dure for the subject of a poem, which is No. 2 of 
"Poems foimded on the Affections." 



LUD 

After Elidure, the Chronicle names many kings, but 
none of special note, till we come to Lud, who greatly 
enlarged Trinovant, his capital, and surrounded it with 
a wall. He changed its name, bestowing upon it his 
own, so that henceforth it was called Lud's town, after- 
wards London. Lud was buried by the gate of the city 
called after him Ludgate. He had two sons, but they 
were not old enough at the time of their father's death 
to sustain the cares of government, and therefore their 
uncle, Caswallaun, or Cassibellaunus, succeeded to the 
kingdom. He was a brave and magnificent prince, so 
that his fame reached to distant countries. 



CASSIBELLAUNUS 

About this time it happened (as is found in the 
Roman histories) that Julius Caesar, having subdued 
Gaul, came to the shore opposite Britain. And having 
resolved to add this island also to his conquests, he pre- 
pared ships and transported his army across the sea, to 
the mouth of the River Thames. Here he was met by 
Cassibellaun with all his forces, and a battle ensued, in 
which Nennius. the brother of Cassibellaun, engaged in 
single combat with Caesar. After several furious blows 
given and received, the sword of Caesar stuck so fast in 
the shield of Nennius that it could not be pulled out, and 
the combatants being separated by the intervention of 
the troops Nennius remained possessed of this trophy. 
At last, after the greater part of the day was spent, the 
Britons poured in so fast that Caesar was forced to retire 
to his camp and fleet. And finding it useless to continue 
the war any longer at that time, he returned to Gaul. 

Shakspeare alludes to Cassibellaunus, in "Cymbe- 
line" : 



388 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

"The famed Cassibelan, who was once at point 
(O giglot fortune!) to master Caesar's sword, 
Made Lud's town with rejoicing fires bright, 
And Britons strut with courage." 

KYMBELINUS, OR CYMBELINE 

Caesar, on a second invasion of the island, was more 
fortunate, and compelled the Britons to pay tribute. 
Cymbeline, the nephew of the king, was delivered to 
the Romans as a hostage for the faithful fulfilment of 
the treaty, and, being carried to Rome by Csesar, he was 
there brought up in the Roman arts and accomplish- 
ments. Being afterwards restored to his country, and 
placed on the throne, he was attached to the Romans, 
and continued through all his reign at peace with them. 
His sons, Guiderius and Arviragus, who made their ap- 
pearance in Shakspeare's play of "Cymbeline," suc- 
ceeded their father, and, refusing to pay tribute to the 
Romans, brought on another invasion. Guiderius was 
slain, but Arviragus afterward made terms with the 
Romans, and reigned prosperously many years. 

ARMORICA 

The next event of note is the conquest and coloniza- 
tion of Armorica, by Maximus, a Roman general, and 
Conan, lord of Miniadoc or Denbigh-land, in Wales. 
The name of the country was changed to Brittany, or 
Lesser Britain ; and so completely was it possessed by 
the British colonists, that the language became assimi- 
lated to that spoken in Wales, and it is said that to this 
day the peasantry of the two countries can understand 
each other when speaking their native language. 

The Romans eventually succeeded in establishing 
themselves in the island, and after the lapse of several 
generations they became blended with the natives so that 
no distinction existed between the two races. When at 
length the Roman armies were withdrawn from Britain, 
their departure was a matter of regret to the inhabitants, 
as it left them without protection against the barbarous 
tribes, Scots, Picts, and Norwegians, who harassed the 



MERLIN 389 

country incessantly. This was the state of things when 
the era of King Arthur began. 

The adventure of Albion, the giant, with Hercules is 
alluded to by Spenser, "Faery Queene," Book IV., 
Canto xi : 

"For Albion the son of Neptune was; 
Who for the proof of his great puissance, 
Out of his Albion did on dry foot pass 
Into old Gaul that now is cleped France, 
To fight with Hercules, that did advance 
To vanquish all the world with matchless might : 
And there his mortal part by great mischance 
Was slain." 



CHAPTER III 

MERLIN 

Merlin was the son of no mortal father, but of an 
Incubus, one of a class of beings not absolutely wicked, 
but far from good, who inhabit the regions of the air. 
Merlin's mother was a virtuous young woman, who, on 
the birth of her son, intrusted him to a priest, who 
hurried him to the baptismal fount, and so saved him 
from sharing the lot of his father, though he retained 
many marks of his unearthly origin. 

At this time Vortigern reigned in Britain. He was a 
usurper, who had caused the death of his sovereign, 
Moines, and driven the two brothers of the late king, 
whose names were Uther and Pendragon, into banish- 
ment. Vortigern, who lived in constant fear of the re- 
turn of the rightful heirs of the kingdom, began to erect 
a strong tower for defence. The edifice, when brought 
by the workmen to a certain height, three times fell to 
the ground, without any apparent cause. The king con- 
sulted his astrologers on this wonderful event, and 
learned from them that it would be necessary to 
bathe the corner-stone of the foundation with the blood 
of a child born without a mortal father. 

In search of such an infant, Vortigern sent his mes- 



390 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

sengers all over the kingdom, and they by accident dis- 
covered Merlm, whose lineage seemed to point him out 
as the individual wanted. They took him to the king; 
but Merlin, young as he was, explained to the king the 
absurdity of attempting to rescue the fabric by such 
means, for he told him the true cause of the instability 
of the tower was its being placed over the den of two 
immense dragons, whose combats shook the earth above 
them. The king ordered his workmen to dig beneath the 
tower, and when they had done so they discovered two 
enormous serpents, the one white as milk the other red 
as fire. The multitude looked on with amazement, till 
the serpents, slowly rising from their den, and expand- 
ing their enormous folds, began the combat, when every 
one fled in terror, except Merlin, who stood by clapping 
his hands and cheering on the conflict. The red dragon 
was slain, and the white one, gliding through a cleft in 
the rock, disappeared. 

These animals typified, as Merlin afterwards ex- 
plained, the invasion of Uther and Pendragon, the 
rightful princes, who soon after landed with a great 
army. Vortigern was defeated, and afterwards burned 
alive in the castle he had taken such pains to construct. 
On the death of Vortigern, Pendragon ascended the 
throne. Merlin became his chief adviser, and often 
assisted tlie king by his magical arts. 

"Merlin, who knew the range of all their arts, 
Had built the King his havens, ships and halls." 

Vivian. 

Among other endowments, he had the power of trans- 
forming himself into any shape he pleased. At one time 
he appeared as a dwarf, at others as a damsel, a page, 
or even a greyhound or a stag. This faculty he often 
employed for the service of the king, and sometimes 
also for the diversion of the court and the sovereigrn. 

Merlin contmued to be a favorite counsellor through 
the reigns of Pendragon, Uther, and Arthur, and at last 
disappeared from view, and was no more found among 
men, through the treachery of his mistress, Viviane, the 
Fairy, which happened in this wise. 



MERLIN 391 

Merlin, having become enamoured of the fair Viviane, 
the Lady of the Lake, was weak enough to impart to 
her various important secrets of his art, being impelled 
by fatal destiny, of which he was at the same time fully 
aware. The lady, however, was not content with his 
devotion, unbounded as it seems to have been, but "cast 
about," the Romance tells us, how she might "detain him 
for evermore," and one day addressed him in these 
terms : "Sir, I would that we should make a fair place 
and a suitable, so contrived by art and by cunning that 
it might never be undone, and that you and I should be 
there in joy and solace." "My lady," said Merlin, "I 
will do all this." "Sir," said she, "I w^ould not have you 
do it, but you shall teach me, and I will do it, and then 
it will be more to my mind." "I grant you this," said 
Merlin. Then he began to devise, and the damsel put it 
all in writing. And when he had devised the whole, 
then had the damsel full great joy, and showed him 
greater semblance of love than she had ever before made, 
and they sojourned together a long while. At length it 
fell out that, as they were going one day hand in hand 
through the forest of Breceliande, they found a bush of 
white-thorn, which was laden with flowers ; and they 
seated themselves under the shade of this white-thorn, 
upon the green grass, and Merlin laid his head upon the 
damsel's lap, and fell asleep. Then the damsel rose, and 
made a ring with her wimple round the bush, and round 
Merlin, and began her enchantments, such as he himself 
had taught her ; and nine times she made the ring, and 
nine times she made the enchantment, and then she went 
and sat down by him, and placed his head again upon 
her lap. 

"And a sleep 
Fell upon Merlin more like death, so deep 
Her finger on her lips ; then Vivian rose, 
And from her brown-locked head the wimple throws, 
And takes it in her hand and waves it over 
The blossomed thorn tree and her sleeping- lover. 
Nine times she waved the fluttering wimple round, 
And made a little plot of magic ground." 

Matthew Arnold. 



392 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

And when he awoke, and looked round him, it seemed 
to him that he was enclosed in the strongest tower in 
the world, and laid upon a fair bed. Then said he to 
the dame : "My lady, you have deceived me, unless you 
abide with me, for no one hath power to unmake this 
tower but you alone." She then promised she would be 
often there, and in this she held her covenant with him. 
And Merlin never went out of that tower where his Mis- 
tress Viviane had enclosed him; but she entered and 
went out again when she listed. 

After this event Merlin was never more known to hold 
converse with any mortal but Viviane, except on one 
occasion. Arthur, having for some time missed him 
from his court, sent several of his knights in search of 
him, and, among the number, Sir Gawain, who met with 
a very unpleasant adventure while engaged in this quest. 
Happening to pass a damsel on his road, and neglecting 
to salute her, she revenged herself for his incivility by 
transforming him into a hideous dwarf. He was be- 
wailing aloud his evil fortune as he went through the 
forest of Breceliande, when suddenly he heard the voice 
of one groaning on his right hand ; and, looking that 
way, he could see nothing save a kind of smoke, which 
seemed like air, and through which he could not pass. 
Merlin then addressed him from out the smoke, and told 
him by what misadventure he was imprisoned there. 
"Ah, sir !" he added, "you will never see me more, and 
that grieves me, but I cannot remedy it; I shall never 
more speak to you, nor to any other person, save only 
my mistress. But do thou hasten to King Arthur, and 
charge him from me to undertake/ without delay, the 
quest of the Sacred Graal. The knight is already born, 
and has received knighthood at his hands, who is des- 
tined to accomplish this quest." And after this he com- 
forted Gawain under his transformation, assuring him 
that he should speedily be disenchanted ; and he pre- 
dicted to him that he should find the king at Carduel, in 
Wales, on his return, and that all the other knights who 
had been on like quest would arrive there the same day 
as himself. And all this came to pass as Merlin had 
said. 



MERLIN 393 

Merlin is frequently introduced in the tales of chiv- 
alry, but it is chiefly on great occasions, and at a period 
subsequent to his death, or magical disappearance. In 
the- romantic poems of Italy, and in Spenser, Merlin 
is chiefly represented as a magical artist. Spenser rep- 
resents him as the artificer of the impenetrable shield 
and other armor of Prince Arthur ("Faery Queene,"' 
Book I., Canto vii.), and of a mirror, in which a damsel 
viewed her lover's shade. The Fountain of Love, in 
the "Orlando Innamorata," is described as his work; 
and in the poem of "Ariosto" we are told of a hall 
adorneci with prophetic paintings, which demons had ex- 
ecuted in a single night, under the direction of Merlin. 

The following legend is from Spenser's "Faery 
Queene," Book III., Canto iii. : 

CAER-MERDIN, OR CAERMARTHEN (iN WALES), MERLIN's TOWER, AND 
THE IMPRISONED FIENDS. 

"Forthwith themselves disguising both, in straunge 
And base attire, that none might them bewray, 
To Maridunum, that is now by chaunge 
Of name Caer-Merdin called, they took their way: 
There the wise Merlin whylome wont (they say) 
To make his wonne, low underneath the ground 
In a deep delve, far from the view of day, 
That of no living wight he mote be found, 
Whenso he counselled with his sprights encompassed round. 

"And if thou ever happen that same way 
To travel, go to see that dreadful place; 
It is a hideous hollow cave (they say) 
Under a rock that lies a little space 
From the swift Barry, tombling down' apace 
Amongst the woody hills of Dynevor; 
But dare not thou, I charge, in any case, 
To enter into' that same baleful bower, 
For fear the cruel fiends should thee un wares devour. 

"But standing high aloft, low lay thine ear, 
And there such ghastly noise of iron chains 
And brazen cauldrons thou shalt rumliling hear. 
Which thousand sprites with long enduring pains 
Do toss, that it will stun thy feeble brains; 
And oftentimes great groans, and grievous stounds, 
When too huge toil and lalwr them constrains; 
And oftentimes loud strokes and ringing sounds 
From under that deep rock most horribly rebounds. 



394 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

"The cause some say is this. A little while 
Before that Merlin died, he did intend 
A brazen wall in compas to compile 
About Caermerdin, and did it commend 
Unto these sprites to bring to perfect end; 
During which work the Lady of the Lake, 
Whom long he loved, for him in haste did send; 
Who, thereby forced his workmen to forsake. 
Them bound till his return their labor not to slack. 

"In the mean time, through that false lady's train, 
He was surprised, and buried under beare,^ 
Ne ever to his work returned again ; 
Nathless those fiends may not their work forbear 
So greatly his commandement they fear; 
But there do toil and travail day and night, 
Until that brazen wall they up do rear. 
For Merlin had in magic more insight 
Than ever him before or after living wight." 



CHAPTER IV 



ARTHUR 



We shall begin our history of King Arthur by giving 
those particulars of his life which appear to rest on his- 
torical evidence; and then proceed to record those leg- 
ends concerning him which form the earliest portion of 
British literature. 

Arthur was a prince of the tribe of Britons called 
Silures, whose country was South Wales, the son of 
Uther, named Pendragon, a title given to an elective sov- 
ereign, paramount over the many kings of Britain. He ap- 
pears to have commenced his manial career about the 
year 500, and was raised to the Pendragonship about ten 
years later. He is said to have gained twelve victories 
over the Saxons. The most important of them was that 
of Badon, by some supposed to be Bath, by others Berk- 
shire. This was the last of his battles with the Saxons, 
and checked their progress so effectually, that Arthur 
experienced no more annoyance from them, and reigned 

^ Buried under beare. Buried under something which enclosed him like 
a coffin or bier. 



ARTHUR 395 

in peace, until the revolt of his nephew Modred, twenty- 
years later, which led to the fatal battle of Camlan, in 
Cornwall, in 542. Modred was slain, and Arthur, mor- 
tally wounded, was conveyed by sea to Glastonbury, 
where he died, and was buried. Tradition preserved 
the memory of the place of his interment within the 
abbey, as we are told by Giraldus Canibrensis, who 
was present when the grave was opened by command of 
Henry H. about 1150, and saw the bones and sword of 
the monarch, and a leaden cross let into his tombstone, 
with the inscription in rude Roman letters, "Here lies 
buried the famous King Arthur, in the island Avalonia." 
This story has been elegantly versified by Warton. A 
popular traditional belief was long entertained among 
the Britons, that Arthur was not dead, but had been 
carried off to be healed of his wounds in Fairy-land, and 
that he would reappear to avenge his countrymen and 
reinstate them in the sovereignty of Britain. In War- 
ton's "Ode" a bard relates to King Henry the tradi- 
tional story of Arthur's death, and closes with these 
lines. 

"Yet in vain a paynim foe 
Armed with fate the mighty blow : 
For when he fell, the Elfin queen, 
All in secret and unseen, 
O'er the fainting hero threw 
Her mantle of ambrosial blue, 
And bade her spirits bear him far, 
In Merlin's agate-axled car, 
To her green isle's enamelled steep, 
Far in the navel of the deep. 
O'er his wounds she sprinkled dew 
From flowers that in Arabia grew. 

There he reigns a mighty king, 
Thence to Britain shall return. 
If right prophetic rolls I learn, 
Borne on victory's spreading plume. 
His ancient sceptre to resume, 
His knightly table to restore, 
And brave the tournaments of yore." 

After this narration another bard came forward who 
recited a different .'^tory : 



396 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

"When Arthur bowed his haughty crest, 
No princess veiled in azure vest 
Snatched him, by Merhn's powerful spell. 
In groves of golden bliss to dwell; 
But when he fell, with winged speed, 
His champions, on a milk-white steed. 
From the battle's hurricane, 
Bore him to Joseph's towered fane,^ 
In the fair vale of Avalon; 
There, with chanted orison 
And the long blaze of tapers clear. 
The stoled fathers met the bier; 
Through the dim aisles, in order dread 
Of martial woe, the chief they led, 
And deep entombed in holy ground. 
Before the altar's solemn bound." 

It must not be concealed that the very existence of 
Arthur has been denied by some. Milton says of him: 
"As to Arthur, more renowned in songs and romances 
than in true stories, who he was, and whether ever any 
such reigned in Britain, hath been doubted heretofore, 
and may again, with good reason." Modern critics, how- 
ever, admit that there was a prince of this name, and 
find proof of it in the frequent mention of him in the 
writings of the Welsh bards. But the Arthur of ro- 
mance, according to Mr. Owen, a Welsh scholar and an- 
tiquarian, is a mythological person. "Arthur," he says, 
"is the Great Bear, as the name literally implies (Arctos. 
Arcturus), and perhaps this constellation, being so near 
the pole, and visibly describing a circle in a small space, 
is the origin of the famous Round Table." 

KING ARTHUR , 

Constans, king of Britain, had three sons, Moines, 
Ambrosius, otherwise called Uther, and Pendragon. 
Moines, soon after his accession to the crown, was van- 
quished by the Saxons, in consequence of the treachery 

^ Glastonbury Abbey, said to be founded by Joseph of Arimathea, in a 
spot anciently called the island or valley of Avalonia. 

Tennyson, in his "Palace of Art," alludes to the legend of Arthur's 
rescue by the Faery queen, thus: 

"Or mythic Uther's deeply wounded son, 
In some fair space of sloping greens, 
Lay dozing in the vale of Avalon, 
And watched by weeping queens." 



ARTHUR 397 

of his seneschal, Vortigern, and growing unpopular, 
through misfortune, he was killed by his subjects, and 
the traitor Vortigern chosen in his place. 

Vortigern was soon after defeated in a great battle by 
Uther and Pendragon, the surviving brothers of Moines, 
and Pendragon ascended the throne. 

This prince had great confidence in the wisdom of 
Merlin, and made him his chief adviser. About this 
time a dreadful war arose between the Saxons and 
Britons. Merlin obliged the royal brothers to swear 
fidelity to each other, but predicted that one of them 
must fall in the first battle. The Saxons were routed, 
and Pendragon, being slain, was succeeded by Uther, 
vho now assumed in addition to his own name the appel- 
lation of Pendragon. 

Merlin still continued a favorite counsellor. At the 
request of Uther he transported by magic art enormous 
stones from Ireland, to form the sepulchre of Pendragon. 
These stones constitute the monument now called Stone- 
henge, on Salisbury plain. 

Merlin next proceeded to Carlisle to prepare the 
Round Table, at which he seated an assemblage of the 
great nobles of the country. The companions admitted 
to this high order were bound by oath to assist each 
other at the hazard of their own lives, to attempt singly 
the most perilous adventures, to lead, when necessary, 
a life of monastic solitude, to fly to arms at the first 
summons, and never to retire from battle till they had 
defeated the enemy, unless night intervened and sepa- 
rated the combatants. 

Soon after this institution, the king invited all his 
barons to the celebration of a great festival, which he 
proposed holding annually at Carlisle. 

As the knights had obtained the sovereign's permis- 
sion to bring their ladies along with them, the beautiful 
Igerne accompanied her husband, Gorlois. Duke of Tin- 
tadel, to one of these anniversaries. The king became 
deeply enamoured of the duchess, and disclosed his pas- 
sion; but Igerne repelled his advances, and revealed his 
solicitations to her husband. On hearing this, the duke 
instantly removed from court with Igerne, and without 



398 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

taking leave of Uther. The king complained to his 
council of this want of duty, and they decided that the 
duke should be summoned to court, and, if refractory, 
should be treated as a rebel. As he refused to obey the 
citation, the king carried war into the estates of his vas- 
sal and besieged him in the strong castle of Tintadel. 
Merlin transformed the king into the likeness of Gorlois, 
and enabled him to have many stolen interviews with 
Igerne. At length the duke was killed in battle and the 
king espoused Igerne. 

From this union sprang Arthur, who succeeded his 
father, Uther, upon the throne. 

ARTHUR CHOSEN KING 

Arthur, though only fifteen years old at his father's 
death, was elected king, at a general meeting of the 
nobles. It was not done without opposition, for there 
were many ambitious competitors. 

"For while he linger'd there 
A doubt that ever smoulder'd in the hearts 
Of those great Lords and Barons of his realm 
Flash'd forth and into war: for most of these 
Made head against him, crying, 'Who is he 
That he should rule us? who hath proven him 
King Uther's son? for lo ! we look at him. 
And find nor face nor bearing, limbs nor voice. 
Are like to those of Uther whom we knew." 

Coming of Arthur. 

But Bishop Brice, a" person of great sanctity, on Christ- 
mas eve addressed the assembly, and represented that 
it would well become them, at that solemn season, to put 
up their prayers for some token which should manifest 
the intentions of Providence respecting their future sov- 
ereign. This was done, and with such success, that the 
service was scarcely ended when a miraculous stone was 
discovered before the church door, and in the stone was 
firmly fixed a sword, with the following words engraven 
on its hilt : 

"I am hight Escalibore, 
Unto a king fair tresore." 



ARTHUR 399 

Bishop Brice, after exhorting the assembly to offer up 
their thanksgiving for this signal miracle, proposed a 
law, that whoever should be able to draw out the sword 
from the stone, should be acknowledged as sovereign of 
the Britons; and his proposal was decreed by general 
acclamation. The tributary kings of Uther, and the 
most famous knights, successively put their strength to 
the proof, but the miraculous sword resisted all their 
efforts. It stood till Candlemas ; it stood till Easter, and 
till Pentecost, when the best knights in the kingdom usu- 
ally assembled for the annual tournament. Arthur, who 
was at that time serving in the capacity of squire to his 
foster-brother, Sir Kay, attended his master to the lists. 
Sir Kay fought with great valor and success, but had the 
misfortune to break his sword, and sent Arthur to his 
mother for a new one. Arthur hastened home, but did 
not find the lady ; but having observed near the church a 
sword, sticking in a stone, he galloped to the place, drew 
out the sword with great ease, and delivered it to his 
master. Sir Kay would willingly have assumed to him- 
self the distinction conferred by the possession of the 
sv/ord, but when, to confirm the doubters, the sword was 
replaced in the stone he was utterly unable to withdraw 
it, and it would yield a second time to no hand but 
Arthur's. Thus decisively pointed out by Heaven as their 
king, Arthur was by general consent proclaimed as such, 
and an early day appointed for his solemn coronation. 

Immediately after his election to the crown, Arthur 
found himself opposed by eleven kings and one duke, 
who with a vast army were actually encamped in the 
forest of Rockingham. By Merlin's advice Arthur sent 
an embassy to Brittany, to solicit the aid of King Ban 
and King Bohort, two of the best knights in the world. 
They accepted the call, and with a powerful army 
crossed the sea, landing at Portsmouth, where they were 
received with great rejoicing. The rebel kings were still 
superior in numbers; but Merlin, by a powerful enchant- 
ment, caused all their tents to fall down at once, and in 
the confusion Arthur with his allies fell upon them and 
totally routed them. 

After defeating the rebels, Arthur took the field 



400 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

against the Saxons. As they were too strong for him 
unaided, he sent an embassy to Armorica, beseeching 
the assistance of Hoel, who soon after brought over an 
army to his aid. The two kings joined their forces, and 
sought the enemy, whom they met, and both sides pre- 
pared for a decisive engagement. "Arthur himself," as 
Geoffrey of Monmouth relates, "dressed in a breastplate 
worthy of so great a king, places on his head a golden 
helmet engraved with the semblance of a dragon. Over 
his shoulders he throws his shield called Priwen, on 
which a picture of the Holy Virgin constantly recalled 
her to his memory. Girt with Caliburn, a most excel- 
lent sword, and fabricated in the isle of Avalon, he 
graces his right hand with the lance named Ron. This 
was a long and broad spear, well contrived for 
slaughter." After a severe conflict, Arthur, calling on 
the name of the Virgin, rushes into the midst of his ene- 
mies, and destroys multitudes of them with the formid- 
able Caliburn, and puts the rest to flight. Hoel, being 
detained by sickness, took no part in this battle. 

This is called the victory of Mount Badon, and, how- 
ever disguised by fable, it is regarded by historians as a 
real event. 

The feats performed by Arthur at the battle of BadoK 
Mount are thus celebrated in Drayton's verse : 

"They sung how he himself at Badon bore, that day, 
When at the glorious goal his British sceptre lay; 
Two daies together how the battel stronglie stood; 
Pendragon's worthie son, who waded there in blood, 
Three hundred Saxons slew with his owne valiant hand." 

Song IV. 

GUENEVER / 

Merlin had planned for Arthur a marriage with the 
daughter of King Laodegan of Carmalide. By his 
advice Arthur paid a visit to the court of that sovereign, 
attended only by Merlin and by thirty-nine knights 
whom the magician had selected for that service. On 
their arrival they found Laodegan and his peers sitting 
in council, endeavoring, but with small prospect of suc- 
cess, to devise means of resisting the impending attack 



ARTHUR 401 

of Ryence, king of Ireland, who, with fifteen tributary- 
kings and an almost innumerable army, had nearly sur- 
rounded the city. Merlin, who acted as leader of the 
band of British knjghts, announced them as strangers, 
who came to offer the king their services in his wars; 
but under the express condition that they should be at 
liberty to conceal their names and quality until they 
should think proper to divulge them. These terms were 
thought very strange, but were thankfully accepted, and 
the strangers, after taking the usual oath to the king, 
retired to the lodging which Merlin had prepared for 
them. 

A few days after this, the enemy, regardless of a 
truce into which they had entered with King Laodegan, 
suddenly issued from their camp and made an attempt 
to surprise the city. Cleodalis, the king's general, as- 
sembled the royal forces with all possible despatch. 
Arthur and his companions also flew to arms, and 
Merlin appeared at tneir head, bearing a standard on 
which was emblazoned a terrific dragon. Merlin ad- 
vanced to the gate, and commanded the porter to open 
it, which the porter refused to do, without the king's 
order. Merlin thereupon took up the gate, with all its 
appurtenances of locks, bars, bolts, etc., and directed his 
troops to pass through, after which he replaced it in per- 
fect order. He then set spurs to his horse and dashed, at 
the head of his little troop, into a body of two thousand 
pagans. The disparity of numbers being so enormous. 
Merlin cast a spell upon the enemy, so as to prevent 
their seeing the small number of their assailants ; not- 
withstanding which the British knights were hard 
pressed. But the people of the city, who saw from the 
walls this unequal contest, were ashamed of leaving the 
small body of strangers to their fate, so they opened the 
gate and sallied forth. The numbers were now more 
nearly equal, and Merlin revoked his spell, so that the 
two armies encountered on fair terms. Where Arthur, 
Ban, Bohort, and the rest fought the king's army had 
the advantage ; but in another part of the iield the king 
himself was surrounded and carried off by the enemy. 
The sad sight was seen by Guenever, the fair daughter 



402 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

of the king, who stood on the city wall and looked at 
the battle. She was in dreadful distress, tore her hair, 
and swooned away. 

But Merlin, aware of what passed in every part of 
the field, suddenly collected his knights, led them out of 
the battle, intercepted the passage of the party who were 
carrying away the king, charged them with irresistible 
impetuosity, cut in pieces or dispersed the whole escort, 
and rescue'd the king. In the fight Arthur encountered 
Caulang, a giant fifteen feet high, and the fair Guen- 
eyer, who had already began to feel a strong interest in 
the handsome young stranger, trembled for the issue of 
the contest. But Arthur, dealing a dreadful blow on the 
shoulder of the monster, cut through his neck so that 
his head hung over on one side, and in this condition 
his horse carried him about the field, to the great horror 
and dismay of the Pagans. Guenever could not refrain 
from expressing aloud her wish that the gentle knight, 
who dealt with giants so dexterously, were destined to 
become her husband, and the wish was echoed by her 
attendants. The enemy soon turned their backs and fled 
with precipitation, closely pursued by Laodegan and his 
allies. 

After the battle Arthur was disarmed and conducted 
to the bath by the princess Guenever, while his friends 
were attended by the other ladies of the court. After 
the bath the knights were conducted to a magnificent 
entertainment, at which they were diligently served by 
the same fair attendants. Laodegan, more and more 
anxious to know the name and quality of his generous 
deliverers, and occasionally forming a/ secret wish that 
the chief of his guests might be Captivated by the 
charms of his daughter, appeared silent and pensive, and 
was scarcely roused from his reverie by the banters of 
his courtiers. Arthur, having had an opportunity of 
explaining to Guenever his great esteem for her merit, 
was in the joy of his heart, and was still further de- 
lighted by hearing from Merlin the late exploits of 
Gawain at London, by means of which his immediate 
return to his dominions was rendered unnecessary, and 
he was left at liberty to protract his stay at the court 



ARTHUR 403 

of Laodegan. Every day contributed to increase the 
admiration of the whole court for the gallant strangers, 
and the passion of Guenever for their chief ; and when 
at last Merlin announced to the king that the object of 
the visit of the party was to procure a bride for their 
leader, Laodegan at. once presented Guenever to Arthur, 
telling him that, whatever might be his rank, his merit 
was sufficient to entitle him to the possession of the 
heiress of Carmalide. 

"And could he find a woman in her womanhood 
As great as he was in his manhood 
The twain together might change the world." 

Guinevere. 

Arthur accepted the lady with the utmost gratitude, and 
Merlin then proceeded to satisfy the king of the rank of 
his son-in-law ; upon which Laodegan, with all his 
barons, hastened to do homage to their lawful sovereign, 
the successor of Uther Pendragon. The fair Guenever 
was then solemnly betrothed to Arthur, and a magnifi- 
cent festival was proclaimed, which lasted seven days. 
At the end of that time, the enemy appearing again with 
renewed force, it became necessary to resume military 
operations/ 

We must now relate what took place at and near 
London, while Arthur was absent from his capital. At 
this very time a band of young heroes were on their 
way to Arthur's court, for the purpose of receiving 
knighthood from him. They were Gawain and his three 
brothers, nephews of Arthur, sons of King Lot, and 
Galachin, another nephew, son of King Nanters. King 
Lot had been one of the rebel chiefs whom Arthur had 
defeated, but he now hoped by means of the young men 
to be reconciled to his brother-in-law. He equipped his 
sons and his nephew with the utmost magnificence, giv- 
ing them a splendid retinue of young men, sons of earls 
and barons, all mounted on the l^est horses, with com- 
plete suits of choice annor. They numbered in all seven 

^ Guenever, the name of Arthur's queen, also written Genievre and 
Geneura, is familiar to all who are conversant with chivalric lore. It is 
to her adventures, and those of htr true knight, Sir Launcelot, that Dante 
alludes in the beautiful episode of Francesca da Rimini. 



404 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

hundred, but only nine had yet received the order of 
knighthood; the rest were candidates for that honor, 
and anxious to earn it by an early encounter with the 
enemy. Gawain, the leader, was a knight of wonder- 
ful strength; but what was most remarkable about him 
was that his strength was greater at certain hours of 
the day than at others. From nine o'clock till noon his 
strength was doubled, and so it was from three to even- 
song; for the rest of the time it was less remarkable, 
though at all times surpassing that of ordinary men. 

After a march of three days they arrived in the vi- 
cinity of London, where they expected to find Arthur 
and his court, and very unexpectedly fell in with a large 
convoy belonging to the enemy, consisting of numerous 
carts and wagons, all loaded with provisions, and 
escorted by three thousand men, who had been collect- 
ing spoil from all the country round. A single charge 
from Gawain's impetuous cavalry was sufficient to dis- 
perse the escort and recover the convoy, which was in- 
stantly despatched to London. But before long a body 
of seven thousand fresh soldiers advanced to the at- 
tack of the five princes and their little army. Gawain, 
singling out a chief named Choas, of gigantic size, began 
the battle by splitting him from the crown of the head 
to the breast. Galachin encountered King Sanagran, 
who was also very huge, and cut off his head. Agrivain 
and Gahariet also performed prodigies of valor. Thus 
they kept the great army of assailants at bay, though 
hard pressed, till of a sudden they perceived a strong body 
of the citizens advancing from London, where the con- 
voy which had been recovered by Gawain had arrived, 
and informed the mayor and citizens of the danger of 
their deliverer. The arrival of the Londoners soon de- 
cided the contest. The enemy fled in all directions, and 
Gawain and his friends, escorted by the grateful citi- 
zens, entered London, and were received with acclama- 
tions. 



ARTHUR 405 

CHAPTER V 
ARTHUR (Continued) 

After the great victory of Mount Badon, by which 
the Saxons were for the time effectually put down, 
Arthur turned his arms against the Scots and Picts, 
whom he routed at Lake Lomond, and compelled to sue 
for mercy. He then went to York to keep his Christ- 
mas, and employed himself in restoring the Christian 
churches which the Pagans had rifled and overthrown. 
The following summer he conquered Ireland, and then 
made a voyage with his fleet to Iceland, which he also 
subdued. The kings of Gothland and of the Orkneys 
came voluntarily and made their submission, promising 
to pay tribute. Then he returned to Britain, where, hav- 
ing established the kingdom, he dwelt twelve years in 
peace. 

During this time he invited over to him all persons 
whatsoever that were famous for valor in foreign na- 
tions, and augmented the number of his domestics, and 
introduced such politeness into his court as people of 
the remotest countries thought worthy of their imitation. 
So that there was not a nobleman who thought hiraself 
of any consideration unless his clothes and arms were 
made in the same fashion as those of Arthur's knights. 

Finding himself so powerful at home, Arthur began 
to form designs for extending his power abroad. So, 
having prepared his fleet, he first attempted Norway, 
that he might procure the crown of it for Lot, his 
sister's husband. Arthur landed in Norway, fought a 
great battle with the king of that country, defeated 
him, and pursued the victory till he had reduced the 
whole country under his dominion, and established Lot 
upon the throne. Then Arthur made a voyage to Gaul 
and laid siege to the city of Paris. Gaul was at that 
time a Roman province, and governed by Flollo, the 
Tribune. When the siege of Paris had continued a 
month, and the peoyle bc^an to suffer from famine. 



406 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

Flollo challenged Arthur to single combat, proposing to 
decide the conquest of the province in that way. Arthur 
gladly accepted the challenge, and slew his adversary 
in the contest, upon which the citizens surrendered the 
city to him. After the victory Arthur divided his army 
into two parts, one of which he committed to the con- 
duct of Hoel, whom he ordered to march into Aquitaine, 
while he with the other part should endeavor to subdue 
the other provinces. At the end of nine years, in which 
time all the parts of Gaul were entirely reduced, Arthur 
returned to Paris, where he kept his court, and, call- 
ing an assembly of the clergy and people, established 
peace and the just administration of the laws in that 
kingdom. Then he bestowed Normandy upon Bedver, 
his butler, and the province of Andegavia upon Kay, 
his st?ward,^ and several other provinces upon his great 
men that attended him. And, having settled the peace 
of the cities and countries, he returned back in the be- 
ginning of spring to Britain. 

Upon the approach of the feast of Pentecost, Arthur, 
the better to demonstrate his joy after such triumphant 
successes, and for the more solemn observation of that 
festival, and reconciling the minds of the princes that 
were now subject to him, resolved during that season 
to hold a magnificent court, to place the crown upon 
his head, and to invite all the kings and dukes under his 
subjection to the solemnity. And he pitched upon 
Caerleon, the City of Legions, as the proper place for 
his purpose. For, besides its great wealth above the 
other cities,^ its situation upon the river Usk, near the 
Severn sea, was most pleasant and fit for so great a 
solemnity. For on one side it was washed by that noble 

* This name, in the French romances, is spelled Queux, which means 
head cook. This would seem to imply that it was a title, and not a name; 
yet the personage who bore it is never mentioned by any other. He is 
the chief, if not the only, comic character among the heroes of Arthur's 
court. He is the Seneschal or Steward, his duties also embracing those 
of chief of the cooits. In the romances, his general character is a com- 
pound of valor and buffoonery, always ready to fight, and generally getting 
the worst of the battle. He is also sarcastic and abusive in his remarks, 
by wliich he often gets into trouble. Yet Arthur seems to have an attach- 
ment to him, and often takes his advice, which is generally wrong. 

* Several cities are allotted to King Arthur by the romance-writers. The 
principal are Caerleon, Camelot, and Carlisle. 

Caerleon derives its name from its having been the station of one of 
the legions, during the dominion of the Romans. It is called by Latin 



ARTHUR 40/ 

river, so that the kings and princes from the countries 
beyond the seas might have the convenience of saiHng 
up to it. On the other side the beauty of the meadows 
and groves, and magnificence of the royal palaces, with 
lofty gilded roofs that adorned it, made it even rival 
the grandeur of Rome. It was also famous for two 
churches, whereof one was adorned with a choir of 
virgins, who devoted themselves wholly to the service of 
God, and the other maintained a convent of priests. 
Besides, there was a college of two hundred philoso- 
phers, who, being learned in astronomy and the other 
arts, were diligent in observing the courses of the stars, 
and gave Arthur true predictions of the events that 
would happen. In this place, therefore, which aiiforded 
such delights, were preparations made for the ensuing 
festival. 

Ambassadors were then sent into several kingdoms, 
to invite to court the princes both of Gaul and of the 
adjacent islands. Accordingly there came Augusel, king 
of Albania, now Scotland, Cadwallo, king of Venedotia, 
now North Wales, Sater, king of Demetia, now South 
Wales ; also the archbishops of the metropolitan sees, 
London and York, and Dubricius, bishop of Caerleon. 
the City of Legions. This prelate, who was primate of 
Britain, was so eminent for his piety that he could cure 
any sick person by his prayers. There were also the 
counts of the principal cities, and many other worthies 
of no less dignity. 

From the adjacent islands came Guillamurius, king 
of Ireland, Gunfasius, king of the Orkneys, Malvasius, 
king of Iceland, Lot, king of Norway, Bedver, the but- 
ler, Duke of Normandy, Kay, the sewer, Duke of Ande- 

writers Urbs Legionum, the City of Legions. The former word being 
rendered into Welsh by Caer, meaning city, and the latter contracted into 
lleon. The river Usk retains its name in modern geography, and there 
is a town or city of Caerleon upon it. though the city of Cardiff is 
thought to be the scene of Arthur's court. Chester also bears in V/elsh the 
name of Caerleon ; for Chester, derived from castra, Latin for camp, is the 
designation of military headquarters. 

Camelot is thought to be Winchester. 

Sbalott is Guilford. 

Hamo's Port is Southampton. 

Carlisle is the city still retaining that name, near the Scottish border. 
But this name is also sometimes applied to other places, which were, like 
itself, military stations. 



408 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

gavia; also the twelve peers of Gaul, and Hoel, Duke 
of the Armorican Britons, with his nobility, who came 
with such a train of mules, horses, and rich furniture 
as it is difficult to describe. Besides these there re- 
mained no prince of any consideration on this side of 
Spain who came not upon this invitation. And no won- 
der, when Arthur's munificence, which was celebrated 
over the whole world, made him beloved by all people. 
When all were assembled upon the day of the sol- 
emnity the archbishops were conducted to the palace, 
in order to place the crown upon the king's head. Then 
Oubricius, inasmuch as the court was held in his dio- 
cese, made himself ready to celebrate the office. As 
soon as the king was invested with his royal habiliments 
he was conducted in great pomp to the metropolitan 
church, having four kings, viz., of Albania, Cornwall, 
Demetia, and Venedotia, bearing four golden swords be- 
fore him. On another part was the queen, dressed out 
in her richest ornaments, conducted by the archbishops 
and bishops to the Church of Virgins ; the four queens, 
also, of the kings last mentioned, bearing before her 
four white doves, according to ancient custom. When 
the whole procession was ended so transporting was 
the harmony of the musical instruments and voices, 
whereof there was a vast variety in both churches, that 
the knights who attended were in doubt which to pre- 
fer, and therefore crowded from the one to the other 
by turns, and were far from being tired of the solemrity, 
though the whole day had been spent in it. At last, 
when divine service was over at both churches, the king 
and queen put off their crowns, and, putting on their 
lighter ornaments, went to the banquet/ When they had 
all taken their seats according to precedence, Kay, the 
sewer, in rich robes of ermine, with a thousand young 
noblemen all in like manner clothed in rich attire, served 
up the dishes. From another part Bedver, the butler, 
was followed by the same number of attendants, who 
waited with all kinds of cups and drinking-vessels. And 
there was food and drink in abundance, and everything 
was of the best kind, and served in the best manner. 
For at that time Britain had arrived at such a pitch of 



ARTHUR 409 

grandeur that in riches, luxury, and politeness it far sur- 
passed all other kingdoms. 

As soon as the banquets were over they went into 
the fields without the city to divert themselves with vari- 
ous sports, such as shooting with bows and arrows, toss- 
ing the pike, casting of heavy stones and rocks, playing 
at dice, and the like, and all these inoffensively, and 
without quarrelling. In this manner were three days 
spent, and after that they separated, and the kings and 
noblemen departed to their several homes. 

After this Arthur reigned five years in peace. Then 
came ambassadors from Lucius Tiberius, Procurator 
under Leo, Emperor of Rome, demanding tribute. But 
Arthur refused to pay tribute, and prepared for war. 
As soon as the necessary dispositions were made he 
committed the government of his kingdom to his nephew 
Modred and to Queen Guenever, and marched with his- 
army to Hamo's Port, where the wind stood fair for 
him. The army crossed over in safety, and landed 
at the mouth of the river Barba. And there they 
pitched their tents to wait the arrival of the kings of 
the islands. 

As soon as all the forces were arrived Arthur marched 
forward to Augustodunum, and encamped on the banks 
of the river Alba. Here repeated battles were fought, 
in all which the Britons, under their valiant leaders, 
Hoel, Duke of Armorica, and Gawain, nephew to Ar- 
thur, had the advantage. At length Lucius Tiberius 
determined to retreat, and wait for the Emperor Leo 
to join him with fresh troops. But Arthur, anticipating 
this event, took possession of a certain valley, and closed 
up the way of retreat to Lucius, compelling him to fight 
a decisive battle, in which Arthur lost some of the 
bravest of his knights and most faithful followers. But 
on the other hand Lucius Tiberius was slain, and his 
army totally defeated. The fugitives dispersed over the 
country, some to the by-ways and woods, some to cities 
and towns, and all other places where they could hope 
for safety. 

Arthur stayed in those parts till the next winter was 
over, and employed his time in restoring order and 



410 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS ' 

settling the government. He then returned into Eng- 
land, and celebrated his victories with great splendor. 

Then the king stablished all his knights, and to them 
that were not rich he gave lands, and charged them 
all never to do outrage nor murder, and always to flee 
treason; also, by no means to be cruel, but to give 
mercy unto him that asked mercy, upon pain of for- 
feiture of their worship and lordship; and always to do 
ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen service, upon pain 
of death. Also that no man take battle in a wrongful 
quarrel, for no law, nor for any world's goods. Unto 
this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, 
both old and young. And at every year were they sworn 
at the high feast of Pentecost. 

KING ARTHUR SLAYS THE GIANT OF ST. MICHAEL's 

MOUNT 

While the army was encamped in Brittany, awaiting 
the arrival of the kings, there came a countryman to 
Arthur, and told him that a giant, whose cave was on 
a neighboring mountain, called St. Michael's Mount, had 
for a long time been accustomed to carry off the chil- 
dren of the peasants to devour them. "And now he 
hath taken the Duchess of Brittany, as she rode with 
her attendants, and hath carried her away in spite of all 
they could do." "Now, fellow," said King Arthur, 
"canst thou bring me there where this giant haunteth ?" 
"Yea, sure," said the good man ; "lo, yonder where thou 
seest two great fires, there shalt thou find him, and more.' 
treasure than I suppose is in all Franc^ beside." Then 
the king called to him Sir Bedver and ^ir Kay, and com- 
manded them to make ready horse and harness for him- 
self and them ; for after evening he would ride on pil- 
grimage to St. Michael's Mount. 

So they three departed, and rode forth till they came 
to the foot of the mount. And there the king com- 
manded them to tarry, for he would himself go up into 
that mount. So he ascended the hill till he came to 
a great fire, and there he found an aged woman sitting 
by a new-made grave, making great sorrow. Then King 



ARTHUR 411 

Arthur saluted her, and demanded of her wherefore she 
made such lamentation; to whom she answered: "Sir 
knight, speak low, for yonder is a devil, and if he hear 
thee speak, he will come and destroy thee. For ye 
cannot make resistance to him, he is so fierce and so 
strong. He hath murdered the Duchess, which here 
lieth, who was the fairest of all the world, wife to Sir 
Hoel, Duke of Brittany." "Dame," said the king, "I 
come from the noble conqueror. King Arthur, to treat 
with that tyrant." "Fie on such treaties," said she ; "he 
setteth not by the king, nor by no man else." "Well," 
said Arthur, "I will accomplish my message for all your 
fearful words." So he went forth by the crest of the 
hill, and saw where the giant sat at supper, gnawing on 
the limb of a man, and baking his broad limbs at the 
fire, and three fair damsels lying bound, whose lot it 
was to be devoured in their turn. When King Arthur 
beheld that, he had great compassion on them, so that 
his heart bled for sorrow. Then he hailed the giant, 
saying, "He that all the world ruleth give thee short 
life and shameful death. Why hast thou murdered this 
Duchess? Therefore come forth, for this day thou 
shalt die by my hand." Then the giant started up, and 
took a great club, and smote at the king, and smote 
off his coronal ; and then the king struck him in the 
belly with his sword, and made a fearful wound. Then 
the giant threw away his club, and caught the king in 
his arms, so that he crushed his ribs. Then the three 
maidens kneeled down and prayed for help and com- 
fort for Arthur. And Arthur weltered and wrenched, 
so that he was one while under, and another time above. 
And so weltering and wallowing they rolled down the 
hill, and ever as they weltered Arthur smote him with 
his dagger ; and it fortuned they came to the place where 
the two knights were. And when they saw the king 
fast in the giant's arms they came and loosed him. Then 
the king commanded Sir Kay to smite off the giant's 
head, and to set it on the truncheon of a spear, and 
fix it on the barbican, that all the people might see and 
beliold it. This was done, and anon it was known 
through all the country, wherefor the people came and 



412 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

thanked the king. And he said, "Give your thanks to 
God; and take ye the giant's spoil and divide it among 
you." And King Arthur caused a church to be builded 
on that hill, in honor of St. Michael. 

KING ARTHUR GETS A SWORD FROM THE LADY OF THE 

LAKE 

One day King Arthur rode forth, and on a sudden 
he was ware of three churls chasing Merlin, to have 
slain him. And the king rode unto them and bade 
them, "Flee, churls !" Then were they afraid when 
they saw a knight, and fled. "O Merlin," said Arthur, 
"here hadst thou been slain, for all thy crafts, had I 
not been by." "Nay," said Merlin, "not so, for I could 
save myself if I would; but thou art more near thy 
death than I am." So, as they went thus talking, King 
Arthur perceived where sat a knight on horseback, as 
if to guard the pass. "Sir knight," said Arthur, "for 
what cause abidest thou here?" Then the knight said, 
"There may no knight ride this way unless he just with 
me, for such is the custom of the pass." "I will amend 
that custom," said the king. Then they ran together, 
and they met so hard that their spears were shivered. 
Then they drew their swords and fought a strong bat- 
tle, with many great strokes. But at length the sword 
of the knight smote King Arthur's sword in two pieces. 
Then said the knight unto Arthur, "Thou art in my 
power, whether to save thee or slay thee, and unless thou 
yield thee as overcome and recreant, thou shalt die." 
"As for death," said King Arthur, "welcome be it when 
it cometh ; but to yield me unto thee as recreant, I will 
not." Then he leapt upon the knight, and took him 
by the middle and threw him down; but the knight was 
a passing strong man, and anon he brought Arthur 
under him, and would have razed off his helm to slay 
him. Then said Merlin, "Knight, hold thy hand, for 
this knight is a man of more worship than thou art 
aware of." "Why, who is he?" said the knight. "It is 
King Arthur." Then would he have slain him for dread 
of his wrath, and lifted up his sword to slay him; and 



ARTHUR 413 

therewith Merlin cast an enchantment on the knight, 
so that he fell to the earth in a great sleep. Then Merlin 
took up King Arthur, and set him on his horse. "Alas !'" 
said Arthur, "what hast thou done, Merlin ? hast thou 
slain this good knight by thy crafts?" "Care ye not," 
said Merlin; "he is wholer than ye be. He is only 
asleep, and will wake in three hours." 

Then the king and he departed, and went till they 
came to a hermit, that was a good man and a great 
leech. So the hermit searched all his wounds, and ap- 
plied good salves ; and the king was there three days, 
and then were his wounds well amended, that he might 
ride and go. So they departed, and as they rode Arthur 
said, "I have no sword." "No matter," said Merlin; 
"hereby is a sword that shall be yours." So they rode 
till they came to a lake, which was a fair water and 
broad. And in the midst of the lake Arthur was aware 
of an arm clothed in white samite,^ that held a fair 
sword in the hand. "Lo !" said Merlin, "yonder is that 
sword that I spake of. It belongeth to the Lady of the 
Lake, and, if she will, thou mayest take it ; but if she 
will not, it will not be in thy power to take it." 

So Sir Arthur and Merlin alighted from their horses, 
and went into a boat. And when they came to the 
sword that the hand held Sir Arthur took it by the 
handle and took it to him, and the arm and the hand 
went under the water. 

Then they returned unto the land and rode forth. 
And Sir Arthur looked on the sword and liked it right 
well. 

So they rode unto Caerleon, whereof his knights were 
passing glad. And when they heard of his adventures 
they marvelled that he would jeopard his person so 
alone. But all men of worship said it was a fine thing 
to be under such a chieftain as would put his person 
in adventure as other poor knights did. 

1 Samite, a sort of silk stuff. 



414 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

CHAPTER VI 

SIR GAWAIN 

Sir Gawatn was nephew to King Arthur, by his sis- 
ter Morgana, married to Lot, king of Orkney, who was 
by Arthur made king of Norway. Sir Gawain was one 
of the most famous knights of the Round Table, and 
is characterized by the romancers as the sage and cour- 
teous Gawain. To this Chaucer alludes in his "Squiere's 
Tale," where the strange knight "salueth" all the court 

"With so high reverence and observance, 
As well in speeche as in countenance, 
That Gawain, with his olde curtesie, 
Though he were come agen out of faerie, 
Ne coude him not amenden with a word." 

Gawain's brothers were Agrivain, Gahariet, and 
Gareth. 

SIR gawain's marriage 

Once upon a time King Arthur held his court in 
merry Carlisle, when a damsel came before him and 
craved a boon. It was for vengeance upon a caitiff 
knight, who had made her lover captive and despoiled 
her of her lands. King Arthur commanded to bring 
him his sword, Excalibar, and to saddle his steed, and 
rode forth without delay to right the lady's wrong. Ere 
long he reached the castle of the grim baron, and chal- 
lenged him to the conflict. But tne castle stood on 
magic ground, and the spell was such that no knight 
could tread thereon but straight his courage fell and his 
strength decayed. King Arthur felt the charm, and 
before a blow was struck, his sturdy limbs lost their 
strength, and his head grew faint. He was fain to yield 
himself prisoner to the churlish knight, who refused to 
release him except upon condition that he should re- 
turn at the end of a year, and bring a true answer to 
the question, "What thing is it which women most de- 



SIR GAWAIN 415 

sire?" or in default thereof surrender himself and his 
lands. King Arthur accepted the terms, and gave his 
oath to return at the time appointed. During the year 
the king rode east, and he rode west, and inquired of 
all whom he met what thing it is which all women most 
desire. Some told him riches ; some, pomp and state ; 
some, mirth ; some, flattery ; and some, a gallant knight. 
But in the diversity of answers he could find no sure 
dependence. The year was well-nigh spent, when one 
day, as he rode thoughtfully through a forest, he saw 
sitting beneath a tree a lady of such hideous aspect that 
he turned away his eyes, and when she greeted him in 
seemly sort, made no answer. "What wight art thou," 
the lady said, "that will not speak to me? It may chance 
that I may resolve thy doubts, though I be not fair of 
aspect." "If thou wilt do so," said King Arthur, 
"choose what reward thou wilt, thou grim lady, and it 
shall be given thee." "Swear me this upon thy faith," 
she said, and Arthur swore it. Then the lady told him 
the secret, and demanded her reward, which was that 
the king should find some fair and courtly knight to be 
her husband. 

King Arthur hastened to the grim baron's castle and 
told him one by one all the answers which he had re- 
ceived from his various advisers, except the last, and 
not one was admitted as the true one. "Now yield thee, 
Arthur," the giant said, "for thou hast not paid thy 
ransom, and thou and thy lands are forfeited to me." 
Then King Arthur said : 

"Yet hold thy hand, thou proud baron, 

I pray thee hold thy hand, 
And give me leave to speak once more. 

In rescue of my land. 
This morn as I came over a moor, 

I saw a lady set, 
Between an oak and a green holly, 

All clad in red scarlett. 
She says all women would have their will. 

This is their chief desire; 
Now yield, as thou art a baron true. 

That I have paid my hire." 

"It was my sister that told thee this," the churlish 



416 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

baron exclaimed. "Vengeance light on her! I will 
some time or other do her as ill a turn." 

King Arthur rode homeward, but not light of heart, 
for he remembered the promise he was under to the 
loathly lady to give her one of his young and gallant 
knights for a husband. He told his grief to Sir Gawain, 
his nephew, and he replied, "Be not sad, my lord, for I 
will marry the loathly lady." King Arthur replied: 

"Now nay, now nay, good Sir Gawaine, 

My sister's son ye be; 
The loathly lady's all too grim, 
And all too foule for thee." 

But Gawain persisted, and the king at last, with sor- 
row of heart, consented that Gawain should be his 
ransom. So one day the king and his knights rode to 
the forest, met the loathly lady, and brought her to 
the court. Sir Gawain stood the scoffs and jeers of his 
companions as he best might, and the marriage was 
solemnized, but not with the usual festivities. Chaucer 
tells us : 

". . . There was no joye ne feste at alle; 
There n' as but hevinesse and mochel sorwe, 
For prively he wed her on the morwe, 
And all day after hid him as an owle, 
So wo was him his wife loked so foule !"^ 

When night came, and they were alone together. Sir 
Gawain could not conceal his aversion; and the lady 
asked him why he sighed so heavily, and turned away 
his face. He candidly confessed it was on account of 
three things, her age, her ugliness, and her low degree. 
The lady, not at all offended, replied with excellent argu- 
ments to all his objections. She showed him that with 
age is discretion, with ugliness security from rivals, and 
that all true gentility depends, not upon the accident of 
birth, but upon the character of the individual. 

Sir Gawain made no reply; but, turning his eyes on 
his bride, what was his amazement to perceive that she 

'^N'as is tiot was, contracted; in modern phrase, there was not Mochel 
sorwe is much sorrow; morwe is morrow. 



SIR GAWAIN 417 

wore no longer the unseemly aspect that had so dis- 
tressed him. She then told him that the form she had 
worn was not her true form, but a disguise imposed 
upon her by a wicked enchanter, and that she was con- 
demned to wear it until two things should happen : one, 
that she should obtain some young and gallant knight to 
be her husband. This having been done, one-half of the 
charm was removed. She was now at liberty to wear 
her true form for half the time, and she bade him choose 
whether he would have her fair by day, and ugly by 
night, or the reverse. Sir Gawain would fain have had 
her look her best by night, when he alone would see 
her, and show her repulsive visage, if at all, to others. 
But she reminded him how much more pleasant it would 
be to her to wear her best looks in the throng of knights 
and ladies by day. Sir Gawain yielded, and gave up his 
will to hers. This alone was wanting to dissolve the 
charm. The lovely lady now with joy assured him 
that she should change no more, but as she now was, 
so would she remain by night as well as by day. 

"Sweet blushes stayned her rud-red cheek, 

Her eyen were black as sloe. 
The ripening cherrye swelled her lippe. 

And all her neck was snow. 
Sir Gawain kist that ladye faire 

Lying upon the sheete, 
And swore, as he was a true knight. 

The spice was never so swete." 

The dissolution of the charm which had held the 
lady also released her brother, the "grim baron," for 
he too had been implicated in it. He ceased to be a 
churlish oppressor, and became a gallant and generous 
knight as any at Arthur's court. 



418 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 



CHAPTER VII 

CARADOC BRIEFBRAS; OR, CARADOC WITH THE SHRUNKEN 

ARM 

Caradoc was the son of Ysenne, the beautiful niece 
of Arthur. He was ignorant who his father was, till 
it was discovered in the following manner: When the 
youth was of proper years to receive the honors of 
knighthood, King Arthur held a grand court for the 
purpose of knighting him. On this occasion a strange 
knight presented himself, and challenged the knights of 
Arthur's court to exchange blow for blow with him. 
His proposal was this to lay his neck on a block for 
any knight to strike, on condition that, if he survived 
the blow, the knight should submit in turn to the same 
experiment. Sir Kay, who was usually ready to accept 
all challenges, pronounced this wholly unreasonable, and 
declared that he would not accept it for all the wealth 
in the world. And when the knight offered his sword, 
with which the operation was to be performed, no per- 
son ventured to accept it, till Caradoc, growing angry 
at the disgrace which was thus incurred by the Round 
Table, threw aside his mantle and took it. "Do you do 
this as one of the best knights?" said the stranger. 
"No," he replied, "but as one of the most foolish." The 
stranger lays his head upon the block, receives a blow 
which sends it rolling from his shoulders, walks after 
it, picks it up, replaces it with great success, and says 
he will return v/hen the court shall be assembled next 
year, and claim his turn. When the anniversary ar- 
rived, both parties were punctual to their engagement. 
Great entreaties were used by the king and queen, and 
the whole court, in behalf of Caradoc, but the stranger 
was inflexible. The young knight laid his head upon 
the block, and more than once desired him to make an 
end of the business,* and not keep him longer in so dis- 
agreeable a state of expectation. At last the stranger 
strikes him gently with the side of the sword, bids him 



CARADOC BRIEFBRAS 419 

rise, and reveals to him the fact that he is his father, 
the enchanter Eliaures, and that he gladly owns him for 
a son, having proved his courage and fidelity to his 
word. 

But the favor of enchanters is short-lived and un- 
certain. Eliaures fell under the influence of a wicked 
woman, who, to satisfy her pique against Caradoc, per- 
suaded the enchanter to fasten on his arm a serpent, 
which remained there sucking at his flesh and blood, 
no human skill sufficing either to remove the reptib 
or alleviate the torments which Caradoc endured. 

Caradoc was betrothed to Guimier, sister to his bosom 
friend, Cador, and daughter to the king of Cornwall. 
As soon as they were informed of his deplorable con- 
dition, they set out for Nantes, where Caradoc's castle 
was, that Guimier might attend upon him. When 
Caradoc heard of their coming, his first emotion was 
that of joy and love. But soon he began to fear that 
the sight of his emaciated form, and of his sufferings, 
would disgust Guimier; and this apprehension became 
so strong, that he departed secretly from Nantes, and 
hid himself in a hermitage. He was sought far and 
near by the knights of Arthur's court, and Cador made 
a vow never to desist from the quest till he should have 
found him. After long wandering, Cador discovered 
his friend in the hermitage, reduced almost to a skele- 
ton, and apparently near his death. All other means of 
relief having already been tried in vain, Cador at last 
prevailed on the enchanter Eliaures to disclose the only 
method which could avail for his rescue. A maiden 
must be found, his equal in birth and beauty, and loving 
him better than herself, so that she would expose her- 
self to the same torment to deliver him. Two vessels 
were then to be provided, the one filled with sour wine, 
ind the other witli milk. Caradoc must enter the first, 
so that the wine should reach his neck, and the maiden 
must get into the other, and, exposing her bosom u])on 
the edge of the vessel, invite the serpent to forsake 
the withered flesh of his victim for this fresh and in- 
viting food. The vessels were to be placed three feet 
apart, and as the serpent crossed from one to the other, 



420 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

a knight was to cut him in two. If he failed in his blow, 
Caradoc would indeed be delivered, but it would be only 
to see his fair champion suffering the same cruel and 
hopeless tonnent. The sequel may be easily foreseen. 
Guimier willingly exposed herself to the perilous ad- 
venture, and Cador, with a lucky blow, killed the ser- 
pent. The arm in which Caradoc had suffered so long 
recovered its strength, but not its shape, in consequence 
of which he was called Caradoc Briefbras, Caradoc of 
the Shrunken Arm. 

Caradoc and Guimier are the hero and heroine of 
the ballad of the "Boy and the Mantle," which follows : 

"The Boy and the Mantle 

"In Carlisle dwelt King Arthur, , 

A prince of passing might. 
And there maintained his Table Round, 
Beset with many a knight. 

"And there he kept his Christmas, 
With mirth and princely cheer. 
When lo ! a strange and cunning boy 
Before him did appear. 

"A kirtle and a mantle 

This boy had him upon, 
With brooches, rings, and ouches. 
Full daintily bedone. 

"He had a sash of silk 
About his middle meet; 
And thus with seemly curtesie 
He did King Arthur greet : 

" 'God speed thee, brave King Arthur. 
Thus feasting in thy bov/er. 
And Guenever, thy goodly queen, 
That fair and peerless flower. 

" 'Ye gallant lords and lordlings, 
I wish you all take heed. 
Lest what ye deem a blooming rose 
Should prove a cankered weed.* 

. . "Then straightway from his bosom 

A little wand he drew; 
And with it eke a mantle. 
Of wondrous shape and hue. 



CARADOC BRIEFBRAS 421 

" 'Now have thou here, King Arthur, 
Have this here of me, 
And give unto thy comely queen, 
All shapen as you see. 

"'No wife it shall become, 

That once hath been to blame.' 
Then every knight in Arthur's court 
Sly glanced at his dame. 

"And first came Lady Guenever, 
The mantle she must try. 
This dame she was new-fangled,^ 
And of a roving eye. 

"When she had taken the mantle. 
And all with it was clad, 
From top to toe it shivered down, 
As though with shears beshred. 

"One while it was too long. 
Another while too short. 
And wrinkled on her shoulders, 
In most unseemly sort. 

"Now green, now red it seemed. 
Then all of sable hue; 
'Beshrew me,' quoth King Arthur, 
'I think thou be'st not true!' 

"Down she threw the mantle. 
No longer would she stay; 
But, storming like a fury. 
To her chamber flung away. 

"She cursed the rascal weaver. 
That had the mantle wrought; 
And doubly cursed the froward imp 
Who thither had it brought. 

"'I had rather live in deserts. 
Beneath the greenwood tree. 
Than here, base king, among thy grooms 
The sport of them and thee.' 

"Sir Kay called forth his lady. 
And bade her to come near : 
'Yet dame, if thou be guilty, 
I pray thee now forbear.' 

^ New-fangled fond of novelty. 



422 KING ARTHQR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

"This lady, pertly giggling, 

With forward step came on, 
And boldly to the little boy 
With fearless face is gone. 

"When she had taken the mantle, 

With purpose for to wear, 

It shrunk up to her shoulder, 

And left her back all bare. 

"Then every merry knight, 
That was in Arthur's court. 
Gibed and laughed and flouted, 
To see that pleasant sport. 

"Down she threw the mantle. 
No longer bold or gay, 
But, with a face all pale and wan,- 
To her chamber slunk away. 

"Then forth came an old knight 

A pattering o'er his creed, 

And proffered to the little boy 

Five nobles to his meed : 

" 'And all the time of Christmas 
Plum-porridge shall be thine, 
If thou wilt let my lady fair 
Within the mantle shine.' 

"A saint his lady seemed, 

With step demure and slow, 
And gravely to the mantle 
With mincing face doth go. 

"When she the same had taken 
That was so fine and tljin, 
It shrivelled all about her. 
And showed her dainty skin. 

"Ah ! little did her mincing. 
Or his long prayers bestead; 
She had no more hung on her 
Than a tassel and a thread. 

"Down she threw the mantle, 

With terror and dismay. 
And with a face of scarlet 
To her chamber hied away. 



CARADOC BRIEFBRAS 423 

"Sir Cradock called his lady, 
And bade her to come near : 
'Come win this mantle, lady, 
And do me credit here: 

" 'Come win this mantle, lady. 
For now it shall be thine, 
If thou hast never done amiss. 
Since first I made thee mine.' 

"The lady, gently blushing, 
With modest grace came on ; 
And now to try the wondrous charm 
Courageously is gone. 

"When she had ta'en the mantle, 

And put it on her back. 
About the hem it seemed 
To wrinkle and to crack. 

"'Lie still,' she cried, 'O mantle! 
And shame me not for naught; 
I'll freely own whate'er amiss 
Or blameful I have wrought. 

" 'Once I kissed Sir Cradock 
Beneath the greenwood tree; 
Once 1 kissed Sir Cradock's mouth, 
Before he married me.' 

"When she had thus her shriven. 
And her worst fault had told, 
The mantle soon became her, 

Right comely as it should. 

"Most rich and fair of color, 

Like gold it glittering shone. 
And much the knights in Arthur's court 
Admired her every one." 

The ballad goes on to tell of two more trials of a 
similar kind, made by means of a boar's head and a 
drinking horn, in both of which the result was equally 
favorable with the first to Sir Cradock and his lady. It 
then concludes as follows : 

"Thus boar's head, horn, and mantle 
Were this fair couple's meed; 
And all such constant lovers, 
God send them well to speed." 

Percy's Reliques. 



424 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

CHAPTER VIII 

LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE 

King Ban, of Brittany, the faithful ally of Arthur 
was attacked by his enemy Claudas, and after a long 
war saw himself reduced to the possession of a single 
fortress, where he was besieged by his enemy. In this 
extremity he determined to solicit the assistance of 
Arthur, and escaped in a dark night, with his wife Helen 
and his infant son Launcelot, leaving his castle in the 
hands of his seneschal, who immediately surrendered 
the place to Claudas. The flames of his burning citadel 
reached the eyes of the unfortunate monarch during his 
flight and he expired with grief. The wretched Helen, 
leaving her child on the brink of a lake, flew to receive 
the last sighs of her husband, and on returning per- 
ceived the little Launcelot in the arms of a nymph, who, 
on the approach of the queen, threw herself into the lake 
with the child. This nymph was Viviane, mistress of 
the enchanter Merlin, better known by the name of the 
Lady of the Lake. Launcelot received his appellation 
from having been educated at the court of this en- 
chantress, whose palace was situated in the midst, not of 
a real, but, like the appearance which deceives the Afri- 
can traveller, of an imaginary lake, whose deluding re- 
semblance served as a barrier to her residence. Here 
she dwelt not alone, but in the midst of a numerous 
retinue, and a splendid court of Knights and damsels, j 

The queen, after her double loss, retired to a con- ' 
vent, where she was joined by the widow of Bohort, 
for this good king had died of grief on hearing of the J 
death of his brother Ban. His two sons, Lionel and 
Bohort, were rescued by a faithful knight, and arrived 
in the shape of greyhounds at the palace of the lake, 
where, having resumed their natural form, they were 
educated along with their cousin Launcelot. 

The fairy, when her pupil had attained the age of 
eighteen, conveyed him to the court of Arthur for the 



LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE 425 

purpose of demanding his admission to the honor of 
knighthood; and at the first appearance of the youth- 
ful candidate the graces of his person, which were not 
inferior to his courage and skill in arms, made an in- 
stantaneous and indelible impression on the heart of 
Guenever, while her charms inspired him with an 
equally ardent and constant passion. The mutual at- 
tachment of these lovers exerted, from that time forth, 
an influence over the whole history of Arthur. For the 
sake of Guenever, Launcelot achieved the conquest of 
Northumberland, defeated Gallehaut. King of the 
Marches, who afterwards became his most faithful 
friend and ally, exposed himself in numberless encoun- 
ters, and brought hosts of prisoners to the feet of his 
sovereign. 

SIR LAUNCELOT 

After King Arthur was come from Rome into Eng- 
land all the knights of the Table Round resorted unto 
him and made him many justs and tournaments. And 
in especial Sir Launcelot of the Lake in all tournaments 
and justs and deeds of arms, both for life and death, 
passed all other knights, and was never overcome, ex- 
cept it were by treason or enchantment ; and he increased 
marvellously in worship, wherefore Queen Guenever had 
him in great favor, above all other knights. And for 
certain he loved the queen again above all other ladies ; 
and for her he did many deeds of arms, and saved her 
from peril, through his noble chivalry. Thus Sir 
Launcelot rested him long with play and game, and then 
he thought to prove himself in strange adventures; so 
he bade his nephew. Sir Lionel, to make him ready, 
"for we two will seek adventures." So they mounted 
on their horses, armed at all sights, and rode into a 
forest, and so into a deep plain. And the weather was 
hot about noon, and Sir Launcelot had great desire to 
sleep. Then Sir Lionel espied a great apple-tree that 
stood by a hedge, and he said : "Brother, yonder is a fair 
shadow there may we rest us and our horses." "Tt is 
well said," replied Sir Launcelot. So they there alighted, 
and Sir Launcelot laid him down, and his helm under 



426 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

his head, and soon was asleep passing fast. And Sir 
Lionel waked while he slept. And presently there came 
three knights riding as fast as ever they might ride, and 
there followed them but one knight. And Sir Lionel 
thought he never saw so great a knight before. So with- 
in a while this great knight overtook one of those 
knights, and smote him so that he fell to the earth. 
Then he rode to the second knight and smote him, and 
so he did to the third knight. Then he alighted down 
and bound all the three knights fast with their own 
bridles. When Sir Lionel saw him do thus, he thought 
to assay him, and made him ready silently, not to awake 
Sir Launcelot, and rode after the strong knight, and 
bade him turn. And the other smote Sir Lionel so hard 
that horse and man fell to the earth ; and then he 
alighted down and bound Sir Lionel, and threw him 
across his own horse ; and so he served them all four, 
and rode with them away to his own castle. And when 
he came there he put them in a deep prison, in which 
were many more knights in great distress. 

Now while Sir Launcelot lay under the apple-tree 
sleeping, there came by him four queens of great estate. 
And that the heat should not grieve them, there rode 
four knights about them, and bare a cloth of green silk 
on four spears, betwixt them and the sun. And the 
queens rode on four white mules. 

Thus as they rode they heard by them a great horse 
grimly neigh. Then they were aware of a sleeping 
knight, that lay all armed under an apple-tree ; and as 
the queens looked on his face, they knew it was Sir 
Launcelot. Then they began to strive for that knight, 
and each one said she would have him for her love. 
"We will not strive," said Morgane le Fay, that was 
King Arthur's sister, "for I will put an enchantment 
upon him, that he shall not wake for six hours, and we 
will take him away to my castle; and then when he is 
surely within my hold, 1 will take the enchantment from 
him, and then let him choose which of us he will have 
for his love." So the enchantment was cast upon Sir 
Launcelot. And then they laid him upon his shield, and 
bare him so on horseback between two knights, and 



LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE 427 

brought him unto the castle and laid him in a chamber, 
and at night they sent him his supper. 

And on the morning came early those four queens, 
richly dight, and bade him good morning, and he them 
again. "Sir knight," they said, "thou must understand 
thou art our prisoner; and we know thee well, that thou 
art Sir Launcelot of the Lake, King Ban's son, and 
that thou art the noblest knight living. And we know 
well that there can no lady have thy love but one, and 
that is Queen Guenever; and now thou shalt lose her 
for ever, and she thee; and therefore it behooveth thee 
now to choose one of us. I am the Queen Morgane le 
Fay, and here is the Queen of North Wales, and the 
Queen of Eastland, and the Queen of the Isles. Now 
choose one of us which thou wilt have, for if thou 
choose not, in this prison thou shalt die." "This is a 
hard case," said Sir Launcelot, "that either I must die, 
or else choose one of you ; yet had I liever to die in 
this prison with worship, than to have one of you for 
my paramour, for ye be false enchantresses." "Well." 
said the queens, "is this your answer, that ye will refuse 
us." "Yea, on my life it is," said Sir Launcelot. Then 
they departed, making great sorrow. 

Then at noon came a damsel unto him with his din- 
ner, and asked him, "What cheer?" "Truly, fair dam- 
sel," said Sir Launcelot, "never so ill." "Sir," said she, 
"if you will be ruled by me, I will help you out of this 
distress. If ye will promise me to help my father on 
Tuesday next, who hath made a tournament betwixt him 
and the king of North Wales ; for last Tuesday my 
father lost the field." "Fair maiden," said Sir Launce- 
lot, "tell me what is your father's name, and then will 
I give you an answer." "Sir knight," she said, "my 
father is King Bagdemagus." "I know him well," said 
Sir Launcelot, "for a noble king and a good knight; and, 
by the faith of my body, I will be ready to do your 
father and you service at that day." 

So she departed, and came on the next morning early 
and found him ready, and brought him out of twelve 
locks, and brought him to his own horse, and lightly he 
saddled him, and so rode forth. 



428 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

And on the Tuesday next he came to a little wood 
where the tournament should be. And there were scaf- 
folds and holds, that lords and ladies might look on, 
and give the prize. Then came into the field the king 
of North Wales, with eightscore helms, and King Badge- 
magus came with fourscore helms. And then they 
couched their spears, and came together with a great 
dash, and there were overthrown at the first encounter 
twelve of King Bagdemagus's party and six of the king 
of North Wales's party, and King Bagdemagus's party 
had the worse. 

With that came Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and thrust 
in with his spear in the thickest of the press; and he 
smote down five knights ere he held his hand; and he 
smote down the king of North Wales, and he brake his 
thigh in that fall. And then the knights of the king 
of North Wales would just no more; and so the gree 
was given to King Bagdemagus. 

And Sir Launcelot rode forth with King Bagdemagus 
unto his castle ; and there he had passing good cheer, 
both with the king and with his daughter. And on the 
morn he took his leave, and told the king he would 
go and seek his brother, Sir Lionel, that went from him 
when he slept. So he departed, and by adventure he 
came to the same forest where he was taken sleeping. 
And in the highway he met a damsel riding on a white 
palfrey, and they saluted each other. "Fair damsel," 
said Sir Launcelot, "know ye in this country any ad- 
ventures?" "Sir knight," said the damsel, "here are 
adventures near at hand, if thou durst pursue them." 
"Why should I not prove adventures?" said Sir 
Launcelot, "since for that cause came I hither." "Sir," 
said she, "hereby dwelleth a knight that will not be 
overmatched for any man I know, except thou over- 
match him. His name is Sir Turquine, and, as I un- 
derstand, he is a deadly enemy of King Arthur, and 
he has in his prison good knights of Arthur's court, 
threescore and more, that he hath won with his own 
hands." "Damsel," said Launcelot, "I pray you bring 
me unto this knight." So she told him, "Hereby, within 
this mile, is his castle, and by it on the left hand is a 



LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE 429 

ford for horses to drink of, and over that ford there 
groweth a fair tree, and on that tree hang many shields 
that good knights wielded aforetime, that are now pris- 
oners; and on the tree hangeth a basin of copper and 
latten, and if thou strike upon that basin thou shalt hear 
tidings." And Sir Launcelot departed, and rode as the 
damsel had shown him, and shortly he came to the ford, 
and the tree where hung the shields and the basin. And 
among the shields he saw Sir Lionel's and Sir Hector's 
shields, besides many others of knights that he knew. 

Then Sir Launcelot struck on the basin with the butt 
of his spear; and long he did so, but he saw no man. 
And at length he was ware of a great knight that drove 
a horse before him, and across the horse there lay an 
armed knight bounden. And as they came near, Sir 
Launcelot thought he should know the captive knight. 
Then Sir Launcelot saw that it was Sir Gaheris, Sir 
Gawain's brother, a knight of the Table Round. "Now, 
fair knight," said Sir Launcelot, "put that wounded 
knight off the horse, and let him rest awhile, and let us 
two prove our strength. For, as it is told me, thou hast 
done great despite and shame unto knights of the Round 
Table, therefore now defend thee." "If thou be of the 
Table Round," said Sir Turquine, "I defy thee and all 
thy fellowship." "That is overmuch said," said Sir 
Launcelot. 

Then they put their spears in the rests, and came 
together with their horses as fast as they might run. 
And each smote the other in the middle of their shields, 
so that their horses fell under them, and the knights 
were both staggered ; and as soon as they could clear 
their horses they drew out their swords and came to- 
gether eagerly, and each gave the other many strong 
strokes, for neither shield nor harness might withstand 
their strokes. So within a while both had grimly 
wounds, and bled grievously. Then at the last they 
were breathless both, and stood leaning upon their 
swords. "Now, fellow," said Sir Turquine, "thou art 
the stoutest man that ever I met with, and best breathed ; 
and so be it thou be not the knight that I hate above all 
other knights, the knight that slew my brother, Sir 



430 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

Carados, I will gladly accord with thee ; and for thy 
love I will deliver all the prisoners that I have." 

"What knight is he that thou hatest so above others?" 
"Truly," said Sir Turquine, "his name is Sir Launcelot 
of the Lake." "I am Sir Launcelot of the Lake, King 
Ban's son of Benwick, and very knight of the Table 
Round; and now I defy thee do thy best." "Ah!" said 
Sir Turquine, "Launcelot, thou art to me the most wel- 
come that ever was knight; for we shall never part till 
the one of us be dead." And then they hurtled together 
like two wild bulls, rashing and lashing with their swords 
and shields, so that sometimes they fell, as it were, 
headlong. Thus they fought two hours and more, till 
the ground where they fought was all bepurpled with 
blood. 

Then at the last Sir Turquine waxed sore faint, and 
gave somewhat aback, and bare his shield full low for 
weariness. That spied Sir Launcelot, and leapt then 
upon him fiercely as a lion, and took him by the beaver 
of his helmet, and drew him down on his knees. And 
he raised off his helm, and smote his neck in sunder. 

And Sir Gaheris, when he saw Sir Turquine slain, 
said, "Fair lord, I pray you tell me your name, for this 
day I say ye are the best knight in the world, for ye 
have slain this day in my sight the mightiest man and 
the best knight except you that ever I saw." "Sir, my 
name is Sir Launcelot du Lac, that ought to help you 
of right for King Arthur's sake, and in especial for 
Sir Gawain's sake, your own dear brother. Now I pray 
you, that ye go into yonder castle, and set free all the 
prisoners ye find there, for I am surg ye shall find there 
many knights of the Table Round, and especially my 
brother Sir Lionel. I pray you greet them all from 
me, and tell them I bid them take there such stufif as 
they find; and tell my brother to go unto the court and 
abide me there, for by the feast of Pentecost I think 
to be there ; but at this time I may not stop, for I have 
adventures on hand." So he departed, and Sir Gaheris 
rode into the castle, and took the keys from the porter, 
and hastily opened the prison door and let out all the 
prisoners. There was Sir Kay, Sir Brandeles, and Sir 



LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE 431 

Galynde, Sir Bryan, and Sir Alyduke, Sir Hector de 
Marys, and Sir Lionel, and many more. And when 
they saw Sir Gaheris they all thanked him, for they 
thought, because he was wounded, that he had slain Sir 
Turquine. "Not so," said Sir Gaheris ; "it was Sir 
Launcelot that slew him, right worshipfully ; I saw it 
with mine eyes." 

Sir Launcelot rode till at nightfall he came to a fair 
castle, and therein he found an old gentlewoman, who 
lodged him with good- will, and there he had good cheer 
for him and his horse. And when time was, his host 
brought him to a fair chamber over the gate to his bed. 
Then Sir Launcelot unarmed him, and set his harness 
by him, and went to bed, and anon he fell asleep. And 
soon after, there came one on horseback and knocked 
at the gate in great haste ; and when Sir Launcelot heard 
this, he arose and looked out of the window, and saw 
by the moonlight three knights riding after that one 
man, and all three lashed on him with their swords, and 
that one knight turned on them knightly again and de- 
fended himself. "Truly," said Sir Launcelot, "yonder 
one knight will I help, for it is shame to see three 
knights on one." Then he took his harness and went 
out at the window by a sheet down to the four knights; 
and he said aloud, "Turn you knights unto me, and 
leave your fighting with that knight." Then the knights 
left Sir Kay, for it was he they were upon, and turned 
unto Sir Launcelot, and struck many great strokes at 
Sir Launcelot, and assailed him on every side. Then Sir 
Kay addressed him to help Sir Launcelot, but he said, 
"Nay, sir, I will none of your help ; let me alone with 
them." So Sir Kay suffered him to do his will, and 
stood one side. And within six strokes Sir Launcelot 
had stricken them down. 

Then they all cried, "Sir knight, we yield us unto 
you." "As to that," said Sir Launcelot, "I will not take 
your yielding unto me. If so be ye will yield you unto 
Sir Kay the Seneschal, I will save your lives, but else 
not." "Fair knight," then they said, "we will do as 
thou commandest us." "Then shall ye," said Sir Launce- 
lot, "on Whitsunday next, go unto the court of King 



432 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

Arthur, and there shall ye yield you unto Queen 
Guenever, and say that Sir Kay sent you thither to be 
her prisoners." "Sir," they said, "it shall be done, by 
the faith of our bodies;" and then they swore, every 
knig>ht upon his sword. And so Sir Launcelot suffered 
them to depart. 

On the morn Sir Launcelot rose early and left Sir 
Kay sleeping; and Sir Launcelot took Sir Kay's armor, 
and his shield, and armed him, and went to the stable 
and took his horse, and so he departed. Then soon 
after arose Sir Kay, and missed Sir Launcelot. And 
then he espied that he had taken his armor and his 
horse. "Now, by my faith, I know well," said Sir Kay, 
"that he will grieve some of King Arthur's knights, for 
they will deem that it is I, and will be bold to meet him. 
But by cause of his armor I am sure I shall ride in 
peace." Then Sir Kay thanked his host and departed. 

Sir Launcelot rode in a deep forest, and there he saw 
four knights, under an oak, and they were of Arthur's 
court. There was Sir Sagramour le Desirus, and 
Hector de Marys, and Sir Gawain, and Sir Uwaine. As 
they spied Sir Launcelot they judged by his arms it 
had been Sir Kay. "Now, by my faith," said Sir 
Sagramour, "I will prove Sir Kay's might;" and got 
his spear in his hand, and came towards Sir Launcelot. 
Therewith Sir Launcelot couched his spear against him, 
and smote Sir Sagramour so sore that horse and man 
fell both to the earth. Then said Sir Hector, "Now shah 
ye see what I may do with him." But he fared worse 
than Sir Sagramour, for Sir Launcelot's spear went 
through his shoulder and bare him from his horse to the 
ground. "By my faith," said Sir Uwaine, "yonder is a 
strong knight, and I fear he hath slain Sir Kay, and 
taken his armor." And therewith Sir Uwaine took his 
spei.r in hand, and rode toward Sir Launcelot; and Sir 
Launcelot met him on the plain and gave him such a 
buffet that he was staggered, and wist not where he was. 
"Now see I well," said Sir Gawain, "that I must en- 
counter with that knight." Then he adjusted his shield, 
and took a good spear in his hand, and Sir Launcelot 
knew him well. Then they let run their horses with 



LAUNCELOT OF THE LAKE 433 

all their mights, and each knight smote the other in the 
middle of his shield. But Sir Gawain's spear broke, and 
Sir Launcelot charged so sore upon him that his horse 
fell over backward. Then Sir Launcelot passed by 
smiling with himself, and he said, "Good luck be with 
him that made this spear, for never came a better into 
my hand." Then the four knights went each to the 
other and comforted one another. "What say ye to this 
adventure," said Sir Gawain, "that one spear hath felled 
us all four?" "I dare lay my head it is Sir Launcelot," 
said Sir Hector; "I know it by his riding." 

And Sir Launcelot rode through many strange coun- 
tries, till by fortune he came to a fair castle ; and as 
he passed beyond the castle he thought he heard two 
bells ring. And then he perceived how a falcon came 
flying over his head, toward a high elm; and she had 
long lunys^ about her feet, and she flew unto the elm 
to take her perch, and the lunys got entangled in the 
bough; and when she would have taken her flight, she 
hung by the legs fast, and Sir Launcelot saw how she 
hung, and beheld the fair falcon entangled, and he was 
sorry for her. Then came a lady out of the castle and 
cried aloud, "O Launcelot, Launcelot, as thou art the 
flower of all knights, help me to get my hawk ; for if 
my hawk be lost, my lord will slay me. he is so hasty." 
"What is your lord's name?" said Sir Launcelot. "His 
name is Sir Phelot, a knight that belongeth to the king 
of North Wales." "Well, fair lady, since ye know my 
name, and require me of knighthood to help you, I will 
do what I may to get your hawk ; and yet in truth I 
am an ill climber, and the tree is passing high, and few 
boughs to help me." And therewith Sir Launcelot 
alighted and tied his horse to the tree, and prayed the 
lady to unarm him. And when he was unarmed, he put 
off his jerkin, and with might and force he clomb up 
to the falcon, and tied the lunys to a rotten bough, and 
threw the hawk down with it ; and the lady got the 
hawk in her hand. Then suddenly there came out of 
the castle her husband, all armed, aiid with his naked 
sword in his hand, and said, "O Knight Launcelot, now 

^ Lunys, the string with which the falcon is held. 



434 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

have I got thee as I would," and stood at the boll of the 
tree to slay him. "Ah, lady !" said Sir Launcelot, "why 
have ye betrayed me?" "She hath done," said Sir 
Phelot, "but as I commanded her; and therefore there 
is none other way but thine hour is come, and thou 
musi die." "That were shame unto thee," said Sir 
Launcelot ; "thou an armed knight to slay a naked man 
by treason." "Thou gettest none other grace," said Sir 
Phelot, "and therefore help thyself if thou canst." 
"Alas !" said Sir Launcelot, "that ever a knight should 
die weaponless !" And therewith he turned his eyes up- 
ward and downward; and over his head he saw a big 
bough leafless, and he brake it off from the trunk. And 
then he came lower, and watched how his own horse 
stood; and suddenly he leapt on the further side of his 
horse from the knight. Then Sir Phelot lashed at him 
eagerly, meaning to have slain him. But Sir Launcelot 
put away the stroke, with the big bough, and smote Sir 
Phelot therewith on the side of the head, so that he 
fell down in a swoon to the ground. Then Sir Launce- 
lot took his sword out of his hand and struck his head 
from the body. Then said the lady, "Alas ! why hast 
thou slain my husband?" "I am not the cause," said 
Sir Launcelot, "for with falsehood ye would have slain 
me, and now it is fallen on yourselves." Thereupon 
Sir Launcelot got all his armor, and put it upon him 
hastily, for fear of more resort, for the knight's castle 
was so nigh. And as soon as he might, he took his horse 
and departed, and thanked God he had escaped that 
adventure. 

And two days before the feast/ of Pentecost, Sir 
Launcelot came home ; and the king and all the court 
were passing glad of his coming. And when Sir Gawain, 
Sir Uwaine, Sir Sagramour, and Sir Llector de Marys 
saw Sir Launcelot in Sir Kay's armor then they wist 
well it was he that smote them down, all with one spear. 
Then there was laughing and merriment among them ; 
and from time to time came all the knights that Sir 
Turquine had prisoners, and they all honored and wor- 
shipped Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Gaheris said, "I saw 
all the battle from the beginning to the end," and he 



THE ADVENTURE OF THE CART 435 

told King Arthur all how it was. Then Sir Kay told 
the king how Sir Launcelot had rescued him, and how 
he "made the knights yield to me, and not to him." 
And there they were, all three, and confirmed it all 
"And, by my faith," said Sir Kay, "because Sir Launce- 
lot took my harness and left me his, I rode in peace, 
and no man would have to do with me." 

And so at that time Sir Launcelot had the greatest 
name of any knight of the world, and most was he 
honored of high and low. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE ADVENTURE OF THE CART 

It befell in the month of May, Queen Guenever 
called to her knights of the Table Round, and gave 
them warning that early upon the morrow she would 
ride a-maying into the woods and fields beside West- 
minster; "and I warn you that there be none of you 
but he be well horsed, and that ye all be clothed in green, 
either silk or cloth ; and I shall bring with me ten 
ladies, and every knight shall have a lady behind him, 
and every knight shall have a squire and two yeoman, 
and all well horsed." 

"For thus it chanced one morn when all the court. 
Green-suited, but with plumes that mock'd the May, 
Had been, their wont, a-maying." 

Guinevere. 

So they made them ready ; and these were the names of 
the knights : Sir Kay the Seneschal, Sir Agrivaine. Sir 
Brandiles, Sir Sagramour le Desirus, Sir Dodynas le 
Sauvage, Sir Ozanna, Sir Ladynas, Sir Persant of Indc, 
Sir Ironside, and Sir Pelleas ; and these ten knights 
made them ready, in the freshest manner, to ride with 
the queen. So upon the morn they took their horses 
with the queen, and rode a-maying in woods and mead- 
ows, as it pleased them, in great joy and delight. Now 



436 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

there was a knight named Maleagans, son to King 
Brademagus, who loved Queen Guenever passing well, 
and so had he done long and many years. Now this 
knight. Sir Maleagans, learned the queen's purpose, and 
that she had no men of arms with her but the ten noble 
knights all arrayed in green for maying; so he prepared 
him twenty men of arms, and a hundred archers, to take 
captive the queen and her knights. 

"In the merry month of May, 
In a morn at break of day. 
With a troop of damsels playing, 
The Queen, forsooth, went forth a-maying." 

Old Song. 

So when the queen had mayed, and all were bedecked 
with herbs, mosses, and flowers in the best manner and 
freshest, right then came out of a wood Sir Maleagans 
with eightscore men well harnessed, and bade the queen 
and her knights yield them prisoners. "Traitor knight," 
said Queen Guenever, "what wilt thou do? Wilt thou 
shame thyself? Bethink thee how thou art -a king's 
son, and a knight of the Table Round, and how thou art 
about to dishonor all knighthood and thyself?" "Be it 
as it may," said Sir Maleagans, "know you well, madam, 
I have loved you many a year and never till now could 
I get you to such advantage as I do now; and therefore 
I will take you as I find you." Then the ten knights of 
the Round Table drew their swords, and the other party 
run at them with their spears, and the ten knights man- 
fully abode them, and smote away their spears. Then 
they lashed together with swords till several were smit- 
ten to the earth. So when the que^n saw her knights 
thus dolefully oppressed, and needs must be slain at the 
last, then for pity and sorrow she cried, "Sir Maleagans, 
slay not my noble knights and I will go with you, upon 
this covenant, that they be led with me wheresoever thou 
leadest me." "Madame," said Maleagans, "for your 
sake they shall be led with you into my own castle, if 
that ye will be ruled, and ride with me." Then Sir 
Maleagans charged them all that none should depart 
from the queen, for he dreaded lest Sir Launcelot should 
have knowledge of what had been done. 



THE ADVENTURE OF THE CART 437 

Then the queen privily called unto her a page of her 
chamber that was swiftly horsed, to whom she said, 
"Go thou when thou seest thy time, and bear this ring 
unto Sir Launcelot, and pray him as he loveth me, 
that he will see me and rescue me. And spare not thy 
horse," said the queen, "neither for water nor for land." 
So the child espied his time, and lightly he took his 
horse with the spurs and departed as fast as he might. 
And when Sir Maleagans saw him so flee, he under- 
stood that it was by the queen's commandment for to 
warn Sir Launcelot. Then they that were best horsed 
chased him, and shot at him, but the child went from 
them all. Then Sir Maleagans said to the queen, 
"Madam, ye are about to betray me, but I shall ar- 
range for Sir Launcelot that he shall not come lightly 
at you." Then he rode with her and them all to his 
castle, in all the haste that they might. And by the way 
Sir Maleagans laid in ambush the best archers that he 
had to wait for Sir Launcelot. And the child came to 
Westminster and found Sir Launcelot and told his mes- 
sage and delivered him the queen's ring. "Alas !" said 
Sir Launcelot, "now am I shamed for ever, unless I 
may rescue that noble lady." Then eagerly he asked 
his armor and put it on him, and mounted his horse and 
rode as fast as he might; and men say he took the water 
at Westminster Bridge, and made his horse swim over 
Thames unto Lambeth. Then within a while he came 
to a wood where was a narrow way ; and there the 
archers were laid in ambush. And they shot at him and 
smote his horse so that he fell. Then Sir Launcelot left 
his horse and went on foot, but there lay so many 
ditches and hedges betwixt the archers and him that 
he might not meddle with them. "Alas ! for shame," 
said Sir Launcelot, "that ever one knight should betray 
another ! but it is an old saw, a good man is never in 
danger, but when he is in danger of a coward." Then 
Sir Launcelot went awhile and he was exceedingly cum- 
bered by his armor, his shield, and his spear, and all 
that belonged to him. Then by chance there came by 
him a cart that came thither to fetch wood. 

Now at this time carts were little used except for 



438 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

carrying offal and for conveying criminals to execution. 
But Sir Launcelot took no thought of anything but the 
necessity of haste for the purpose of rescuing the queen ; 
so he demanded of the carter that he should take him 
in and convey him as speedily as possible for a liberal 
reward. The carter consented, and Sir Launcelot placed 
himself in the cart and only lamented that with much 
jolting he made but little progress. Then it happened 
Sir Gawain passed by and seeing an armed knight travel- 
ling in that unusual way he drew near to see who it 
might be. Then Sir Launcelot told him how the queen 
had been carried off, and how, in hastening to her res- 
cue, his horse had been disabled and he had been com- 
pelled to avail himself of the cart rather than give up 
his enterprise. Then Sir Gawain said, "Surely it is un- 
worthy of a knight to travel in such sort;" but Sir 
Launcelot heeded him not. 

At nightfall they arrived at a castle and the lady 
thereof came out at the head of her damsels to welcome 
Sir Gawain. But to admit his companion, whom she 
supposed to be a criminal, or at least a prisoner, it 
pleased her not; however, to oblige Sir Gawain, she 
consented. At supper Sir Launcelot came near being 
consigned to the kitchen and was only admitted to the 
lady's table at the earnest solicitation of Sir Gawain. 
Neither would the damsels prepare a bed for him. He 
seized the first he found unoccupied and was left un- 
disturbed. 

Next morning he saw from the turrets of the castle a 
train accompanying a lady, whom he imagined to be the 
queen. Sir Gawain thought it mighvbe so, and became 
equally eager to depart. The lady of the castle sup- 
plied Sir Launcelot with a horse and they traversed 
the plain at full speed. They learned from some trav- 
ellers whom they met. that there were two roads which 
led to the castle of Sir Maleagans. Here therefore the 
friends separated. Sir Launcelot found his way besec 
with obstacles, which he encountered successfully, but not 
without much loss of time. As evening approached he 
was met by a young and sportive damsel, who gayly 
proposed to him a supper at her castle. The knight, 



THE ADVENTURE OF THE CART 439 

who was hungry and weary, accepted the offer, though 
with no very good grace. He followed the lady to her 
castle and ate voraciously of her supper, but was quite 
impenetrable to all her amorous advances. Suddenly 
the scene changed and he was assailed by six furious 
ruffians, whom he dealt with so vigorously that most of 
them were speedily disabled, when again there was a 
change and he found himself alone with his fair hostess, 
who informed him that she was none other than his 
guardian fairy, who had but subjected him to tests of 
his courage and fidelity. The next day the fairy broughl 
him on his road, and before parting gave him a ring, 
which she told him would by its changes of color dis- 
close to him all enchantments, and enable him to subdue 
them. 

Sir J^auncelot pursued his journey, without being 
much incommoded except by the taunts of travellers, 
who all seemed to have learned, by some means, his 
disgraceful drive in the cart. One, more insolent than 
the rest, had the audacity to interrupt him during din- 
ner, and even to risk a battle in support of his pleasan- 
try. Launcelot, after an easy victory, only doomed 
him to be carted in his turn. 

At night he was received at another castle, with great 
apparent hospitality, but found himself in the morning 
in a dungeon, and loaded with chains. Consulting his 
ring, and finding that this was an enchantment, he burst 
his chains, seized his armor in spite of the visionary 
monsters who attempted to defend it, broke open the 
gates of the tower, and continued his journey. At length 
his progress was checked by a wide and rapid torrent, 
which could only be passed on a narrow bridge, on 
which a false step would prove his destruction. Launce- 
lot, leading his horse by the bridle, and making him 
swim by his side, passed over the bridge, and was at- 
tacked as soon as he reached the bank by a lion and 
a leopard, both of which he slew, and then, exhausted 
and bleeding, seated himself on the grass, and endeav- 
ored to bind up his wounds, when he was accosted by 
Brademagus, the father of Maleagans, whose castle was 
then in sight, and at no great distance. This king, no 



440 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

less courteous than his son was haughty and insolent, 
after complimenting Sir Launcelot on the valor and 
skill he had displayed in the perils of the bridge and 
the wild beasts, offered him his assistance, and informed 
him that the queen was safe in his castle, but could only 
be rescued by encountering Maleagans. Launcelot de- 
manded the battle for the next day, and accordingly it 
took place, at the foot of the tower, and tinder the eyes 
of the fair captive. Launcelot was enfeebled by his 
wounds, and fought not with his usual spirit, and the 
contest for a time was doubtful ; till Guenever exclaimed, 
"Ah, Launcelot ! my knight, truly have I been told that 
thou art no longer worthy of me !" These words in- 
stantly revived the drooping knight ; he resumed at once 
his usual superiority, and soon laid at his feet his 
haughty adversary. 

He was on the point of sacrificing him to his resent- 
ment, when Guenever, moved by the entreaties of Brade- 
magus, ordered him to withhold the blow, and he obeyed. 
The castle and its prisoners were now at his disposal. 
Launcelot hastened to the apartment of the queen, threw 
himself at her feet, and was about to kiss her hand, 
when she exclaimed, "Ah, Launcelot ! why do I see thee 
again, yet feel thee to be no longer worthy of me, after 
having been disgracefully drawn about the country in 
a " She had not time to finish the phrase, for her 
lover suddenly started from her, and, bitterly lamenting 
that he had incurred the displeasure of his sovereign 
lady, rushed out of the castle, threw his sword and his 
shield to the right and left, ran furiously into the woods, 
and disappeared. / 

It seems that the story of the aborninable cart, which 
haunted Launcelot at every step, had reached the ears 
of Sir Kay, who had told it to the queen, as a proof 
that her knight mast have been dishonored. But 
Guenever had full leisure to repent the haste with which 
she had given credit to the tale. Three days elapsed, 
during which Launcelot wandered without knowing 
where he went, till at last he began to reflect that his 
mistress had doubtless been deceived by misrepresen- 
tation, and that it was his duty to set her right. He 



THE LADY OF SHALOTT 441 

therefore returned, compelled Maleagans to release his 
prisoners, and, taking the road by which they expected 
the arrival of Sir Gawain, had the satisfaction of meet- 
ing him the next day ; after which the whole company 
proceeded gayly towards Camelot. 



CHAPTER X 

THE LADY OF SHALOTT 

King Arthur proclaimed a solemn tournament to be 
held at Winchester. The king, not less impatient than 
his knights for this festival, set off some days before to 
superintend the preparations, leaving the queen with her 
court at Camelot. Sir Launcelot, under pretence of in- 
disposition, remained behind also. His intention was to 
attend the tournament in disguise; and having communi- 
cated his project to Guenever, he mounted his horse, 
set off without any attendant, and, counterfeiting the 
feebleness of age, took the most unfrequented road to 
Winchester, and passed unnoticed as an old knight who 
was going to be a spectator of the sports. Even Arthur 
and Gawain, who happened to behold him from the 
windows of a castle under which he passed, were the 
dupes of his disguise. But an accident betrayed him. 
His horse happened to stumble, and the hero, forget- 
ting for a moment his assumed character, recovered the 
animal with a strength and agility so peculiar to him- 
self, that they instantly recognized the inimitable 
Launcelot. They suffered him, however, to proceed on 
his journey without interruption, convinced that his ex- 
traordinary feats of arms must discover him at the ap- 
proaching festival. 

In the evening Launcelot was magnificently enter- 
tained as a stranger knight at the neighboring castle of 
Shalott. The lord of this castle had a daughter of ex- 
quisite beauty, and two sons lately received into the 
order of knighthood, one of whom was at that time ill 
in bed, and thereby prevented from attending the tour- 



442 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

nament, for which both brothers had long made prep- 
aration. Launcelot offered to attend the other, if he 
were permitted to borrow the armor of the invalid, and 
the lord of Shalott, without knowing the name of his 
guest, being satisfied from his appearance that his son 
could not have a better assistant in arms, most thank- 
fully accepted the offer. In the meantime the young 
lady, who had been much struck by the first appear- 
ance of the stranger knight, continued to survey him 
with increased attention, and, before the conclusion of 
supper, became so deeply enamoured of him, that 
after frequent changes of color, and other symptoms 
which Sir Launcelot could not possibly mistake, she 
was obliged to retire to her chamber, and seek relief 
in tears. Sir Launcelot hastened to convey to her, by 
means of her brother, the information that his heart 
was already disposed of, but that it would be his pride 
and pleasure to act as her knight at the approaching 
tournament. The lady, obliged to be satisfied with that 
courtesy, presented him her scarf to be worn at the 
tournament. 

Launcelot set off in the morning with the young 
knight, who, on their approaching Winchester, carried 
him to the castle of a lady, sister to the lord of Shalott, 
by whom they were hospitably entertained. The next 
day they put on their armor, which was perfectly plain 
and without any device, as was usual to youths during 
the first year of knighthood, their shields being only 
painted red, as some color was necessary to enable them 
to be recognized by their attendants. Launcelot wore 
on his crest the scarf of the maid of Shalott, and, thus 
equipped, proceeded to the tournament, wdiere the 
knights were divided into two companies, the one com- 
manded by Sir Galehaut, the other by King Arthur. 
Having surveyed the combat for a short time from with- 
out the lists, and observed that Sir Galehaut's party 
began to give way, they joined the press and attacked 
the royal knights, the young man choosing such adver- 
saries as were suited to his strength, while his com- 
panion selected the principal champions of the Round 
Table, and successively overthrew Gawain, Bohort, and 



THE LADY OF SHALOTT 443 

Lionel. The astonishment of the spectators was ex- 
treme, for it was thought that no one but Launcelot 
could possess such invincible force ; yet the favor on 
his crest seemed to preclude the possibility of his being 
thus disguised, for Launcelot had never been known to 
wear the badge of any but his sovereign lady. At length 
Sir Hector, Launcelot's brother, engaged him, and, after 
a dreadful combat, wounded him dangerously in the 
head, but was himself completely stunned by a blow 
on the helmet, and felled to the ground; after which 
the conqueror rode off at full speed, attended by his 
companion. 

They returned to the castle of Shalott, where Launce- 
lot was attended with the greatest care by the good earl, 
by his two sons, and, above all, by his fair daughter, 
whose medical skill probably much hastened the period 
of his recovery. His health was almost completely re- 
stored, v;hen Sir Hector, Sir Bohort, and Sir Lionel, 
who, after the return of the court to Camelot, had 
undertaken the quest of their relation, discovered him 
walking on the walls of the castle. Their meeting was 
very joyful ; they passed three days in the castle amidst 
constant festivities, and bantered each other on the 
events of the tournament. Launcelot, though he began 
by vowing vengeance against the author of his wound, 
yet ended by declaring that he felt rewarded for the 
pain by the pride he took in witnessing his brother's ex- 
traordinary prowess. He then dismissed them with a 
message to the queen, promising to follow immediately, 
it being necessary that he should first take a formal leave 
of his kind hosts, as well as of the fair maid of Shalott. 

The young lady, after vainly attempting to detain him 
by her tears and solicitations, saw him depart without 
leaving her any ground for hope. 

It was early summer when the tournament took 
place ; but some months had passed since Launcelot's 
departure, and winter was now near at hand. The 
health and strength of the Lady of Shalott had gradu- 
ally sunk, and she felt that she could not live apart 
from the object of her affections. She left the castle, 
and descending to the river's brink placed herself in a 



444 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

boat, which she loosed from its moorings, and suffered 
to bear her down the current toward Camelot. 

One morning, as Arthur and Sir Lionel looked from 
the window of the tower, the walls of which were 
washed by a river, they descried a boat richly orna- 
m-ented, and covered with an awning of cloth of gold, 
which appeared to be floating down the stream with- 
out any human guidance. It struck the shore while 
they watched it, and they hastened down to examine it. 
Beneath the awning they discovered the dead body of 
a beautiful woman, in whose features Sir Lionel easily 
recognized the lovely maid of Shalott. Pursuing their 
search, they discovered a purse richly embroidered with 
gold and jewels, and within the purse a letter, which 
Arthur opened, and found addressed to himself and all 
the knights of the Round Table, stating that Launcelot 
of the Lake, the most accomplished of knights and most 
beautiful of men, but at the same time the most cruel 
and inflexible, had by his rigor produced the death of 
the wretched maiden, whose love was no less invincible 
than his cruelty. The king immediately gave orders for 
the interment of the lady with all the honors suited to 
her rank, at the same time explaining to the knights the 
history of her affection for Launcelot, which moved 
the compasbion and regret of all. 



Tennyson has chosen the story of the "Lady of 
Shalott" for the subject of a poem. The catastrophe is 
told thus : 

"Under tower and balcony. 
By garden-wall and gallery, / 
A gleaming shape she floated by, 
A corse between the houses high, 

Silent into Camelot. 
Out upon the wharfs they came, 
Knight and burgher, lord and dame. 
And round the prow they read her name; 

The Lady of Shalott.' 

"Who is this? and what is here? 
And in the lighted palace near 
Died the sound of royal cheer; 
And they crossed themselves for fear, 



QUEEN GUENEVER'S PERIL 445 

All the knights at Camelot. 
But Launcelot mused a httle space; 
He said, 'She has a lovely face; 
God in his mercy lend her grace, 
The Lady of Shalott.' " 



CHAPTER XI 

QUEEN GUENEVER's PERIL 

It happened at this time that Queen Guenever was 
thrown into great peril of her life. A certain squire 
who was in her immediate service, having some cause 
of animosity to Sir Gawain, determined to destroy him 
by poison, at a public entertainment. For this purpose 
he concealed the poison in an apple of fine appearance, 
which he placed on the top of several others, and put 
the dish before the queen, hoping that, as Sir Gawain 
was the knight of greatest dignity, she would present 
the apple to him. But it happened that a Scottish knight 
of high distinction, who arrived on that day, was seated 
next to the queen, and to him as a stranger she pre- 
sented the apple, which he had no sooner eaten than he 
was seized with dreadful pain, and fell senseless. The 
whole court was, of course, thrown into confusion ; the 
knights rose from table, darting looks of indignation at 
the wretched queen, whose tears and protestations were 
unable to remove their suspicions. In spite of all that 
could be done the knight died, and nothing remained but 
to order a magnificent funeral and monument for him, 
which was done. 

Some time after Sir Mador, brother of the murdered 
knight, arrived at Arthur's court in quest of him. 
While hunting in the forest he by chance came to the 
spot where the monument was erected, read the in- 
scription, and returned to court determined on imme- 
diate and signal vengeance. He rode into the hall, loudly 
accused the queen of treason, and insisted on her being 
given up for punishment, unless she should find by a 
certain day a knight hardy enough to risk his life ia 



446 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

support of her innocence. Arthur, powerful as he was, 
did not dare to deny the appeal, but was compelled with 
a heavy heart to accept it, and Mador sternly took his 
departure, leaving the royal couple plunged in terror and 
anxiety. 

During all this time Launcelot was absent, and no one 
knew where he was. He fled in anger from his fair 
mistress, upon being reproached by her with his pas- 
sion for the Lady of Shalott, which she had hastily 
inferred from his wearing her scarf at the tournament. 
He took up his abode with a hermit in the forest, and 
resolved to think no more of the cruel beauty, whose 
conduct he thought must flow from a wish to get rid 
of him. Yet calm reflection had somewhat cooled his 
indignation, and he had begun to wish, though hardly 
able to hope, for a reconciliation when the news of Sir 
Mador's challenge fortunately reached his ears. The 
intelligence revived his spirits, and he began to prepare 
with the utmost cheerfulness for a contest which, if 
successful, would insure him at once the affection of his 
mistress and the gratitude of his sovereign. 

The sad fate of the Lady of Shalott had ere this com- 
pletely acquitted Launcelot in the queen's mind of all 
suspicion of his fidelity, and she lamented most griev- 
ously her foolish quarrel with him, which now, at her 
time of need, deprived her of her most efficient cham- 
pion. 

As the day appointed by Sir Mador was fast ap- 
proaching, it became necessary that she should procure 
a champion for her defence ; and she successively ad- 
jured Sir Hector, Sir Lionel, Sir Bohort, and Sir Ga- 
wain to undertake the battle. Sire fell on her knees 
before them, called heaven to witness her innocence of 
the crime alleged against her, but was sternly answered 
by all that they could not fight to maintain the inno- 
cence of one whose act, and the fatal consequence of 
it, they had seen with their own eyes. She retired, 
therefore, dejected and disconsolate; but the sight of 
the fatal pile on which, if guilty, she was doomed to 
be burned, exciting her to fresh effort, she again re- 
paired to Sir Bohort, threw herself at his feet, and pite- 



QUEEN GUENEVER'S PERIL 447 

ously calling on him for mercy, fell into a swoon. The 
brave knight was not proof against this. He raised her 
up, and hastily promised that he would undertake her 
cause, if no other or better champion should present 
himself. He then summoned his friends, and told them 
his resolution ; and as a mortal combat with Sir Mador 
was a most fearful enterprise, they agreed to accom- 
pany him in the morning to the hermitage in the forest, 
where he proposed to receive absolution from the hermit, 
and to make his peace with Heaven before he entered 
the lists. As they approached the hermitage, they 
espied a knight riding in the forest, whom they at once 
recognized as Sir Launcelot. Overjoyed at the meet- 
ing, they quickly, in answer to his questions, confirmed 
the news of the queen's imminent danger, and received 
his instructions to return to court, to comfort her as 
well as they could, but to say nothing of his intention of 
undertaking her defence, which he meant to do in the 
character of an unknown adventurer. 

On their return to the castle they found that mass 
was finished, and had scarcely time to speak to the queen 
before they were summoned into the hall to dinner. A 
general gloom was spread over the countenances of all 
the guests. Arthur himself was unable to conceal his 
dejection, and the wretched Guenever, motionless and 
bathed in tears, sat in trembling expectation of Sir Ma- 
dor's appearance. Nor was it long ere he stalked into 
the hall, and with a voice of thunder, rendered more 
impressive by the general silence, demanded instant jus- 
tice on the guilty party. Arthur replied with dignity, 
that little of the day was yet spent, and that perhaps a 
champion might yet be found capable of satisfving his 
thirst for battle. Sir Rohort now rose from table, and 
shortly returning in complete armor, resumed his place, 
after receiving the emibraces and thanks of the king, 
who now began to resume some degree of confidence. 
Sir Mador, growing impatient, again repeated his de- 
nunciations of vengeance, and insisted that the combat 
should no longer be postponed. 

In the height of the debate there came riding into the 
hall a knight mounted on a black steed, and clad in black 



448 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

armor, with his visor down, and lance in hand. "Sir," 
said the king-, "is it your will to alight and partake of 
our cheer?" "Nay, sir," he replied; "I come to save 
a lady's life. The queen hath ill bestowed her favors, 
and honored many a knight, that in her hour of need 
she should have none to take her part. Thou that darest 
accuse her of treachery, stand forth, for to-day shalt 
thou need all thy might." 

Sir Mador, though surprised, was not appalled by the 
stern challenge and formidable appearance of his antag- 
onist, but prepared for the encounter. At the first shock 
both were unhorsed. They then drew their swords, and 
commenced a combat which lasted from noon till eve- 
ning, when Sir Mador, whose strength began to fail, was 
felled to the ground by Launcelot, and compelled to sue 
for mercy. The victor, whose arm was already raised to 
terminate the life of his opponent, instantly dropped his 
sword, courteously lifted up the fainting Sir Mador, 
frankly confessing that he had never before encountered 
so formidable an enemy. The other, with similar court- 
esy, solemnly renounced all further projects of ven- 
geance for his brother's death; and the two knights, now 
become fast friends, embraced each other with the great- 
est cordiality. In the meantime Arthur, having recog- 
nized Sir Launcelot, whose helmet was now unlaced, 
rushed down into the lists, followed by all his knights, 
to welcome and thank his deliverer. Guenever swooned 
with joy, and the place of combat suddenly exhibited a 
scene of the most tumultuous delight. 

The general satisfaction was still further increased by 
the discovery of the real culprit, paving accidentally 
incurred some suspicion, he confessed his crime, and was 
publicly punished in the presence of Sir Mador. 

The court now returned to the castle, which, with the 
title of "La Joyeuse Garde" bestowed upon it in memory 
of the happy event, was conferred on Sir Launcelot by 
Arthur, as a memorial of his gratitude. 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 449 

CHAPTER XII 

TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 

Meliadus was king of Leonois, or Lionesse, a 
country famous in the annals of romance, which ad- 
joined the kingdom of Cornwall, but has now disap- 
peared from the map, having been, it is said, over- 
whelmed by the ocean. Meliadus was married to 
Isabella, sister of Mark, king of Cornwall. A fairy fell 
in love with him, and drew him away by enchantment 
while he was engaged in hunting. His queen set out in 
quest of him, but was taken ill on her journey, and died, 
leaving an infant son, whom, from the melancholy cir- 
cumstances of his birth, she called Tristram. 

Gouvernail, the queen's squire, who had accompanied 
her, took charge of the child, and restored him to his 
father, who had at length burst the enchantments of the 
fairy, and returned home. 

Meliadus after seven years married again, and the 
new queen, being jealous of the influence of Tristram 
with his father, laid plots for his life, which were dis- 
covered by Gouvernail, who in consequence fled with 
the boy to the court of the king of France, where Tris- 
tram was kindly received, and grew up improving in 
every gallant and knightly accomplishment, adding to 
his skill in arms the arts of music and of chess. In par- 
ticular, he devoted himself to the chase and to all wood- 
land sports, so that he became distinguished above all 
other chevaliers of the court for his knowledge of all 
that relates to hunting. No wonder that Belinda, the 
king's daughter, fell in love with him ; but as he did not 
return her passion, she, in a sudden impulse of anger, 
excited her father against him, and he was banished the 
kingdom. The princess soon repented of her act, and in 
despair dcstroyefl herself, having first written a most 
tender letter to Tristram, sending him at the same time 
a beautiful and sagacious dog, of which she was very 
fond, desiring him to keep it as a memorial of her. 



450 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

Meliadus was now dead, and as his queen, Tristram's 
stepmother, held the throne, Gouvernail was afraid to 
carry his pupil to his native country, and took him to 
Cornwall, to his uncle Mark, who gave him a kind re- 
ception. 

King Mark resided at the castle of Tintadel, already 
mentioned in the history of Uther and Igerne. In this 
court Tristram became distinguished in all the exercises 
incumbent on a knight ; nor was it long before he had 
an opportunity of practically employing his valor and 
skill. Moraunt, a celebrated champion, brother to the 
queen of Ireland, arrived at the court, to demand tribute 
of King Mark. The knights of Cornwall are in ill re- 
pute in romance for their cowardice, and they exhibited 
it on this occasion. King Mark could find no champion 
who dared to encounter the Irish knight, till his nephew 
Tristram, who had not yet received the honors of knight- 
hood, craved to be admitted to the order, offering at the 
same time to fight the battle of Cornwall against the 
Irish champion. King Mark assented with reluctance; 
Tristram received the accolade, which conferred knight- 
hood upon him, and the place and time were assigned 
for the encounter. 

Without attempting to give the details of this famous 
combat, the first and one of the most glorious of Tris- 
tram's exploits, we shall only say that the young knight 
though severely wounded, cleft the head of Moraunt 
leaving a portion of his sword in the wound. Moraunt 
\ialf dead with his wound and the disgrace of his defeat 
hastened to hide himself in his ship, sailed away with 
all speed for Ireland, and died soon after arriving in 
his own country. 

The kingdom of Cornwall was thus delivered from 
its tribute. Tristram, weakened by loss of blood, fell 
senseless. His friends flew to his assistance. They 
dressed his wounds, which in general healed readily ; 
but the lance of Moraunt was poisoned, and one 
wound which it made yielded to no remedies, but grew 
worse day by day. The surgeons could do no more. 
Tristram asked permission of his uncle to depart, and 
seek for aid in the kingdom of Loegria (England). 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 451 

With his consent he embarked, and after tossing for 
many days on the sea, was driven by the winds to the 
coast of Ireland. He landed, full of joy and gratitude 
that he had escaped the peril of the sea; took his rote,^ 
and began to play. It was a summer evening, and the 
king of Ireland and his daughter, the beautiful Isoude, 
were at a window which overlooked the sea. The 
strange harper was sent for, and conveyed to the pal- 
ace, where, finding that he was in Ireland, whose cham- 
pion he had lately slain, he concealed his name, and 
called himself Tramtris. The queen undertook his 
cure, and by a medicated bath gradually restored him 
to health. His skill in music and in games occasioned 
his being frequently called to court, and he became the 
instructor of the princess Isoude in minstrelsy and 
poetry, who profited so well under his care, that she soon 
had no equal in the kingdom, except her instructor. 

At this time a tournament was held, at which many 
knights of the Round Table, and others, were present. 
On the first day a Saracen prince, named Palamedes, 
obtained the advantage over all. They brought him to 
the court, and gave him a feast, at which Tristram, just 
recovering from his wound, was present. The fair 
Isoude appeared on this occasion in all her charms. 
Palamedes could not behold them without emotion, and 
made no effort to conceal his love. Tristram perceived 
it, and the pain he felt from jealousy taught him how 
dear the fair Isoude had already become to him. 

Next day the tournament was renewed. Tristram, 
still feeble from his wound, rose during the night, took 
his arms, and concealed them in a forest near the place 
of the contest, and, after it had begun, mingled with 
the combatants. He overthrew all that encountered him, 
in particular Palamedes, whom he brought to the ground 
with a stroke of his lance, and then fought him hand 
to hand, bearing ofif the prize of the tourney. But his 
exertions caused his wound to reopen ; he bled fast, 
and in this sad state, yet in triumph, they bore him 
to the palace. The fair Isoude devoted herself to his 
relief with an interest which grew more vivid day by 

1 A musical instrument. 



452 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

day; and her skilful care soon restored him to health. 

It happened one day that a damsel of the court, en- 
tering the closet where Tristram's arms were deposited, 
perceived that a part of the sword had been broken off. 
It occurred to her that the missing portion was like 
that which was left in the skull of Moraunt. the Irish 
champion. She imparted her thought to the queen, who 
compared the fragment taken from her brother's wound 
with the sword of Tristram, and was satisfied that it 
was part of the same, and that the weapon of Tristram 
was that which reft her brother's life. She laid her 
griefs and resentment before the king, who satisfied him- 
self with his own eyes of the truth of her suspicions. 
Tristram was cited before the whole court, and re- 
proached with having dared to present himself before 
them after having slain their kinsman. He acknowl- 
edged that he had fought with Moraunt to settle the 
claim for tribute, and said that it w^as by force of winds 
and waves alone that he was thrown on their coast. The 
queen demanded vengeance for the death of her brother ; 
the fair Isoude trembled and grew pale, but a mur- 
mur rose from all the assembly that the life of one so 
handsome and so brave should not be taken for such a 
cause, and generosity finally triumphed over resentment 
in the mind of the king. Tristram was dismissed m 
safety, but commanded to leave the kingdom without 
delay, and never to return thither under pain of death. 
Tristram went back, with restored health, to Cornwall. 

King Mark made his nephew give him a minute re- 
cital of his adventures. Tristram told him all minutely; 
but when he came to speak of the /fair Isoude he de- 
scribed her charms with a warmth and energy such as 
none but a lover could display. King Mark was fas- 
cinated with the description, and, choosing a favorable 
time, demanded a boon^ of his nephew, who readily 

^ " Good faith was the very corner-stone of chivalry. Whenever a 
knight's word was pledged (it mattered not how rashly) it was to be re- 
deemed at any price. Hence the sacred obligation of the boon granted by a 
knight to. his suppliant. Instances without number occur in romance, in 
which a knight, by rashly granting an indefinite boon, was obliged to do or 
suffer something extremely to his prejudice. But it is not in romance 
alone that we find such singular instances of adherence to a,i indefinite 
promise. The history of the times presents authentic transactions equally 
embarrassing and absurd." Scott, note to Sir Tristram. 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 453 

granted it. The king made him swear upon the holy 
reliques that he would fulfil his commands. Then Mark 
directed him to go to Ireland, and obtain for him the 
fair Isoude to be queen of Cornwall. 

Tristram believed it was certain death for him to re- 
turn to Ireland; and how could he act as ambassador 
for his uncle in such a cause? Yet, bound by his oath, 
he hesitated not for an instant. He only took the pre- 
caution to change his armor. He embarked for Ireland; 
but a tempest drove him to the coast of England, near 
Camelot, where King Arthur was holding his court, 
attended by the knights of the Round Table, and many 
others, the most illustrious in the world. 

Tristram kept himself unknown. He took part in 
many justs ; he fought many combats, in which he cov- 
ered himself with glory. One day he saw among those 
recently arrived the king of Ireland, father of the fair 
Isoude. This prince, accused of treason against his liege 
sovereign, Arthur, came to Camelot to free himself from 
the charge. Blaanor, one of the most redoubtable war- 
riors of the Round Table, was his accuser, and Argius, 
the king, had neither youthful vigor nor strength to en- 
counter him. He must therefore seek a champion to 
sustain his innocence. But the knights of the Round 
Table were not at liberty to fight against one another, 
unless in a quarrel of their own. Argius heard of the 
great renown of the unknown knight; he also was wit- 
ness of his exploits. He sought him, and conjured him 
to adopt his defence, and on his oath declared that he 
was innocent of the crime of which he was accused. 
Tristram readily consented, and made himself known to 
the king, who on his part promised to reward his ex- 
ertions, if successful, with whatever gift he might ask. 

Tristram fought with Blaanor, and overthrew him, 
and held his life in his power. The fallen warrior 
called on him to use his right of conquest, and strike 
the fatal blow. "God forbid," said Tristram, "that I 
should take the life of so brave a knight !" He raised 
him up and restored him to his friends. The judges of 
the field decided that the king of Ireland was acquitted 
of the charge against him, and they led Tristram in 



454 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

triumph to his tent. King Argius, full of gratitude, con- 
jured Tristram to accompany him to his kingdom. They 
departed together, and arrived in Ireland; and the queen, 
forgetting her resentment for her brother's death, ex- 
hibited to the preserver of her husband's life nothing 
but gratitude and good-w^ill. 

How happy a moment for Isoude, who knew that her 
father had promised his deliverer whatever boon he 
might ask ! But the unhappy Tristram gazed on her 
with despair, at the thought of the cruel oath which 
bound him. His magnanimous soul subdued the force 
of his love. He revealed the oath which he had taken, 
and with trembling voice demanded the fair Isoude for 
his uncle. 

Argius consented, and soon all was prepared for the 
departure of Isoude. Brengwain, her favorite maid of 
honor, was to accompany her. On the day of departure 
the queen took aside this devoted attendant, and told 
her that she had observed that her daughter and Tris- 
tram were attached to one another, and that to avert the 
bad effects of this inclination she had procured from a 
powerful fairy a potent philter (love-draught), which 
she directed Brengwain to administer to Isoude and to 
King Mark on the evening of their marriage. 

Isoude and Tristram embarked together. A favorable 
wind filled the sails, and promised them a fortunate 
voyage. The lovers gazed upon one another, and could 
not repress their sighs. Love seemed to light up all his 
fires on their lips, as in their hearts. The day was warm; 
they suffered from thirst. Isoude first complained. 
Tristram descried the bottle containing the love-draught, 
which Brengwain had been so imprudent as to leave in 
sight. He took it, gave some of it to the charming 
Isoude, and drank the remainder himself. The dog 
Houdain licked the cup. The ship arrived in Cornwall, 
and Isoude was married to King Mark. The old mon- 
arch was delighted with his bride, and his gratitude to 
Tristram was unbounded. He loaded him with honors, 
and made him chamberlain of his palace, thus giving him 
access to the queen at all times. 

In the midst of the festivities of the court which 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 455 

followed the royal marriage, an unknown minstrel one 
day presented himself, bearing a harp of peculiar con- 
struction. He excited the curiosity of King Mark by 
refusing to play upon it till he should grant him a 
boon. The king having promised to grant his request, 
the minstrel, who was none other than the Saracen 
knight, Sir Palamedes, the lover of the fair Isoude, 
sung to the harp a lay. in which he demanded Isoude 
as the promised gift. King Mark could not by the laws 
of knighthood withhold the boon. The lady was mount- 
ed on her horse, and led away by her triumphant lover. 
Tristram, it is needless to say, was absent at the time, 
and did not return until their departure. When he 
heard what had taken place he seized his rote, and 
hastened to the shore, where Isoude and her new mas- 
ter had already embarked. Tristram played upon his 
rote, and the sound reached the ears of Isoude, who 
became so deeply affected, that Sir Palamedes was in- 
duced to return with her to land, that they might see 
the unknown musician. Tristram watched his oppor- 
tunity, seized the lady's horse by the bridle, and plunged 
with her into the forest, tauntingly informing his rival 
that "what he had got by the harp he had lost by the 
rote." Palamedes pursued, and a combat was about to 
commence, the result of which must have been fatal to 
one or other of these gallant knights ; but Isoude stepped 
between them, and, addressing Palamedes, said, "You 
tell me that you love me ; you will not then deny me 
che request I am about to make?" "Lady," he re- 
plied, "I will perform your bidding." "Leave, then," 
said she, "this contest, and repair to King Arthur's 
court, and salute Queen Guenever from me ; tell her 
that there are in the world but two ladies, herself and 
I, and two lovers, hers and mine; and come thou not in 
future in any place where I am." Palamedes burst into 
tears. "Ah, lady," said he, "I will obey you; but I be- 
seech you that you will not for ever steel your heart 
against me." "Palamedes," she replied, "may I never 
taste of joy again if I ever quit my first love." Pala- 
medes then went his way. The lovers remained a week 
in concealment, after which Tristram restored Isoude to 



456 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

her husband, advising him in future to reward min- 
strels in some other way. 

The king showed much gratitude to Tristram, but 
in the bottom of his heart he cherished bitter jealousy 
of him. One day Tristram and Isoude were alone to- 
gether in her private chamber. A base and cowardly 
knight of the court, named Andret, spied them through 
a keyhole. They sat at a table of chess, but were 
not attending to the game. Andret brought the king, 
having first raised his suspicions, and placed him so as 
to watch their motions. The king saw enough to con- 
firm his suspicions, and he burst into the apartment with 
his sword drawn, and had nearly slain Tristram be- 
fore he was put on his guard. But Tristram avoided 
the blow, drew his sword, and drove" before him the 
cowardly monarch, chasing him through all the apart- 
ments of the palace, giving him frequent blows with 
the flat of his sword, while he cried in vain to his knights 
to save him. They were not inclined, or did not dare, 
to interpose in his behalf. 



A proof of the great popularity of the tale of Sir 
Tristram is the fact that the Italian poets, Boiardo and 
Ariosto, have founded upon it the idea of the two en- 
chanted fountains, which produced the opposite effectr. 
of love and hatred. Boiardo thus describes the foun- 
tain of hatred : 

"Fair was that fountain, sculptured all of gold, 
With alabaster sculptured, rich and rare; 
And in its basin clear thou might'st behold 
The flowery marge reflected fresh and fair. 
Sage Merhn framed the font, so legends bear, 
When on fair Isoude doated Tristram brave, 
That the good errant knight, arriving there. 
Might quaff oblivion in the enchanted wave. 
And leave his luckless love, and 'scape his timeless grave. 

'But ne'er the warrior's evil fate allowed 
His steps that fountain's charmed verge to gain. 
Though restless, roving on adventure proud, 
He traversed oft the land and oft the main." 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 457 

CHAPTER XIII 
TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE (Continued) 

After this affair Tristram was banished from the 
kingdom, and Isoude shut up in a tower, which stood 
on the bank of a river. Tristram could not resolve to 
depart without some further communication with his be- 
loved; so he concealed himself in the forest, till at last 
he contrived to attract her attention, by means of twigs 
which he curiously peeled, and sent down the stream 
under her window. By this means many secret in- 
terviews were obtained. Tristram dwelt in the forest, 
sustaining himself by game, which the dog Houdain 
ran down for him ; for this faithful animal was un- 
equalled in the chase, and knew so well his master's 
wish for concealment, that, in the pursuit of his game, 
he never barked. At length Tristram depa^^ted, but left 
Houdain with Isoude, as a remembrancer of him. 

Sir Tristram wandered through various countries, 
achieving the most perilous enterprises, and covering 
himself with glory, yet unhappy at the separation from 
his beloved Isoude. At length King Mark's territory 
was invaded by a neighboring chieftain, and he was 
forced to summon his nephew to his aid. Tristram 
obeyed the call, put himself at the head of his uncle's 
vassals, and drove the enemy out of the country. Mark 
was full of gratitude, and Tristram, restored to favor 
and to the society of his beloved Isoude, seemed at the 
sunmiit of happiness. But a sad reverse was at hand. 

Tristram had brought with him a friend named 
Pheredin, son of the king of Brittany. This young 
knight saw Queen Isoude, and could not resist her 
charms. Knowing the love of his friend for the queen, 
and that that love was returned, Pheredin concealed his 
own, until his health failed, and he feared he was draw- 
ing near his end. He then wrote to the beautiful queen 
that he was dying for love of her. 

The gentle Isoude, in a moment of pity for the friend 



458 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

of Tristram, returned him an answer so kind and com- 
passionate that it restored him to Hfe. A few days 
afterwards Tristram found this letter. The most ter- 
rible jealousy took possession of his soul ; he would have 
slain Pheredin, who with difficulty made his escape. 
Then Tristram mounted his horse, and rode to the forest, 
where for ten days he took no rest nor food. At length 
he was found by a damsel lying almost dead by the 
brink of a fountain. She recognized him, and tried in 
vain to rouse his attention. At last recollecting his love 
for music she went and got her harp, and played there- 
on. Tristram was roused from his reverie ; tears flowed ; 
he breathed more freely ; he took the harp from the 
maiden, and sung this lay, Avith a voice broken with 
sobs: 

"Sweet I sang in former days, 
Kind love perfected my lays : 
Now my art alone displays 
The woe that on my being preys. 

"Charming love, delicious power, 
Worshipped from my earliest hour, 
Thou who life on all dost shower, 
Love! my Hfe thou dost devour. 

"In death's hour I beg of thee, 
Isoude, dearest enemy, 
Thou who erst couldst kinder be, 
When I'm gone, forget not me. 

"On my gravestone passers-by 
Oft will read, as low I lie, 
'Never wight in love could vie 
With Tristram, yet she let him die.' " 

/ 

Tristram, having finished his lay, wrote it off and 
gave it to the damsel, conjuring her to present it to the 
queen. 

Meanwhile Queen Isoude was inconsolable at the ab- 
sence of Tristram. She discovered that it was caused 
by the fatal letter which she had written to Pheredin. 
Innocent, but in despair at the sad effects of her let- 
ter, she wrote another to Pheredin, charging him never 
to see her again. The unhappy lover obeyed this cruel 



1 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 459 

decree. He plunged into the forest, and died of grief 
and love in a hermit's cell. 

Isoude passed her days in lamenting the absence and 
unknown fate of Tristram. One day her jealous hus- 
band, having entered her chamber unperceived, over- 
heard her singing the following lay : 

"My voice to piteous wail is bent, 
My harp to notes of languishment; 
Ah, love ! delightsome days be meant 
For happier wights, with hearts content. 

"Ah, Tristram ! far away from me. 
Art thou from restless anguish free? 
Ah ! couldst thou so one moment be. 
From her who so much loveth thee?" 

The king hearing these v/ords burst forth in a rage ; 
but Isoude was too wretched to fear his violence. "You 
have heard me," she said ; "I confess it all. I love 
Tristram, and always shall love him. Without doubt he 
is dead, and died for me. I no longer wish to live. 
The blow that shall finish my misery will be most wel- 
come." 

The king was moved at the distress of the fair Isoude, 
and perhaps the idea of Tristram's death tended to allay 
his wrath. He left the queen in charge of her women, 
commanding them to take especial care lest her despair 
should lead her to do harm to herself. 

Tristram meanwhile, distracted as he was, rendered 
a most important service to the shepherds by slaying a 
gigantic robber named Taullas, who was in the habil 
of plundering their flocks and rifling their cottages. 
The shepherds, in their gratitude to Tristram, bore him 
in triumph to King Mark to have him bestow on him a 
suitable reward. No wonder Mark failed to recognize 
in the half-clad, wild man, before him his nephew 
Tristram ; but grateful for the service the unknown had 
rendered he ordered him to be well taken care of, and 
gave him in charge to the queen and her women. Under 
such care Tristram rapidly recovered his serenity and his 
health, so that the romancer tells us he became hand- 
somer than ever. King Mark's jealousy revived with 



460 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

Tristram's health and good looks, and, in spite of his 
debt of gratitude so lately increased, he again banished 
him from the court. 

Sir Tristram left Cornwall, and proceeded into the 
land of Loegria (England) in quest of adventures. One 
day he entered a wide forest. The sound of a little bell 
showed him that some inhabitant was near. He fol- 
lowed the sound, and found a hermit, who informed 
him that he was in the forest of Arnantes, belonging to 
the fairy Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, who, smitten 
with love for King Arthur, had found means to entice 
him to this forest, where by enchantments she held him 
a prisoner, having deprived him of all memory of who 
and what he was. The hermit informed him that all the 
knights of the Round Table were out in search of the 
king, and that he (Tristram) was now in the scene of 
the most grand and important adventures. 

This was enough to animate Tristram in the search. 
He had not wandered far before he encountered a knight 
of Arthur's court, who proved to be Sir Kay the 
Seneschal, who demanded of him whence he came. Tris- 
tram answering, "From Cornwall," Sir Kay did not let 
slip the opportunity of a joke at the expense of the 
Cornish knight. Tristram chose to leave him in his 
error, and even confirmed him in it; for meeting some 
other knights Tristram declined to just with them. 
They spent the night together at an abbey, where Tris- 
tram submitted patiently to all their jokes. The Sene- 
schal gave the word to his companions that they should 
set out early next day, and intercept the Cornish knight 
on his way, and enjoy the amusement of seeing his 
fright when they should insist on running a tilt with 
him. Tristram next morning found himself alone ; he 
put on his armor, and set out to continue his quest. 
He soon saw before him the Seneschal and the three 
knights, who barred the way, and insisted on a just. 
Tristram excused himself a long time; at last he re- 
luctantly took his stand. He encountered them, one 
after the other, and overthrew them all four, man and 
horse, and then rode off, bidding them not to forget 
their friend, the knight of Cornwall. 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 461 

Tristram had not ridden far when he met a damsel, 
who cried out, "Ah, my lord ! hasten forward, and pre- 
vent a horrid treason !" Tristram flew to her assistance, 
and soon reached a spot where he beheld a knight, whom 
three others had borne to the ground, and were un- 
lacing his helmet in order to cut off his head. 

Tristram flew to the rescue, and slew with one stroke 
of his lance one of the assailants. The knight, recov- 
ering his feet, sacrificed another to his vengeance, and 
the third made his escape. The rescued knight then 
raised the visor of his helmet, and a long white beard 
fell down upon his breast. The majesty and vener- 
able air of this knight made Tristram suspect that it 
was none other than Arthur himself, and the prince 
confirmed his conjecture. Tristram would have knelt 
before him, but Arthur received him in his arms, and 
inquired his name and country ; but Tristram declined 
to disclose them, on the plea that he was now on a quest 
requiring secrecy. At this moment the damsel who had 
brought Tristram to the rescue darted forward, and, 
seizing the king's hand, drew from his finger a ring, 
the gift of the fairy, and by that act dissolved the en- 
chantment. Arthur, having recovered his reason and his 
memory, offered to Tristram to attach him to his court, 
and to confer honors and dignities upon him ; but Tris- 
tram declined all, and only consented to accompany him 
till he should see him safe in the hands of his knights. 
Soon after. Hector de Marys rode up, and saluted the 
king, who on his part introduced him to Tristram as 
one of the bravest of his knights. Tristram took leave 
of the king and his faithful follower, and continued his 
quest. 

We cannot follow Tristram through all the adven- 
tures which filled this epoch of his history. Suffice it 
to say, he fulfilled on all occasions the duty of a true 
knight, rescuing the oppressed, redressing wrongs, abol- 
ishing evil customs, and suppressing injustice, thus by 
constant action endeavoring to lighten the pains of ab- 
sence from her he loved. In the meantime Isoude, sep- 
arated from her dear Tristram, passed her days in 
languor and regret. At length she could no longer re- 



462 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

sist the desire to hear some news of her lover. She 
wrote a letter, and sent it by one of her damsels, niece 
of her faithful Brengwain. One day Tristram, weary 
with his exertions, had dismounted and laid himself 
down by the side of a fountain and fallen asleep. The 
damsel of Queen Isoude arrived at the same fountain, 
and recognized Passebreul, the horse of Tristram, and 
presently perceived his master asleep. He was thin 
and pale, showing evident marks of the pain he suf- 
fered in separation from his beloved. She awakened 
him, and gave him the letter which she bore, and Tris- 
tram enjoyed the pleasure, so sweet to a lover, of 
hearing from and talking about the object of his affec- 
tions. He prayed the damsel to postpone her return till 
after the magnificent tournament which Arthur had pro- 
claimed should have taken place, and conducted her to 
the castle of Persides, a brave and loyal knight, who re- 
ceived her with great consideration. 

Tristram conducted the damsel of Queen Isoude to 
the tournament, and had her placed in the balcony 
among the ladies of the queen. 

"He glanced and saw the stately galleries, 
Dame, damsel, each through worship of their Queen 
White-robed in honor of the stainless child, 
And some with scatter'd jewels, like a bank 
Of maiden snow mingled with sparks of fire. 
He looked but once, and veiled his eyes again." 

The Last Tournament. 

He then joined the tourney. Nothing could exceed his 
strength and valor. Launcelot admired him, and by a 
secret presentiment declined to dispute the honor of the 
day with a knight so gallant and so skilful. Arthur de- 
scended from the balcony to greet the conqueror; but 
the modest and devoted Tristram, content with having 
borne off the prize in the sight of the messenger of 
Isoude, made his escape with her, and disappeared. 

The next day the tourney recommenced. Tristram 
assumed different armor, that he might not be known ; 
but he was soon detected by the terrible blows that 
he gave. Arthur and Guenever had no doubt that it 
was the same knight who had borne off the prize of 



TRISTRAM AND ISOUDE 463 

the day before. Arthur's gallant spirit was roused. 
After Launcelot of the Lake and Sir Gawain he was 
accounted the best knight of the Round Table. He 
went privately and armed himself, and came into the 
tourney in undistinguished armor. He ran a just with 
Tristram, whom he shook in his seat ; but Tristram, who 
did not know him, threw him out of the saddle. Arthur 
recovered himself, and content with having made proof 
of the stranger knight bade Launcelot finish the adven- 
ture, and vindicate the honor of the Round Table. Sir 
Launcelot, at the bidding of the monarch, assailed Tris- 
tram, whose lance was already broken in former en- 
counters. But the law of this sort of combat was that 
the knight after having broken his lance must fight with 
his sword, and must not refuse to meet with his shield 
the lance of his antagonist. Tristram met Launcelot's 
charge upon his shield, which that terrible lance could 
not fail to pierce. It inflicted a wound upon Tristram's 
side, and, breaking, left the iron in tlie wound. But 
Tristram also with his sword smote so vigorously on 
Launcelot's casque that he cleft it, and wounded his 
head. The wound was not deep, but the blood flowed 
into his eyes, and blinded him for a moment, and Tris- 
tram, who thought himself mortally wounded, retired 
from the field. Launcelot declared to the king that 
he had never received such a blow in his life before. 

Tristram hastened to Gouvernail, his squire, who drew 
forth the iron, bound up the wound, and gave him im- 
mediate ease. Tristram after the tournament kept re- 
tired in his tent, but Arthur, with the consent of all the 
knights of the Round Table, decreed him the honors of 
the second day. But it was no longer a secret that the 
victor of the two days was the same indi\idual, and 
Gouvernail, being questioned, confirmed the suspicions 
of Launcelot and Arthur that it was no other than Sir 
Tristram, of Leonais, the nephew of the king of Corn- 
wall. 

King Arthur, who desired to reward his distinguished 
valor, and knew that his Uncle Mark had ungratefully 
banished him, would have eagerly availed himself of 
the opportunity to attach Tristram to his court, all the 



464 KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS 

knights of the Round Table declaring with acclamation 
that it would be impossible to find a more worthy com- 
panion. But Tristram had already departed in search 
of adventures, and the damsel of Queen Isoude returned 
to her mistress. 



CHAPTER XIV 
SIR Tristram's battle with sir launcelot 

Sir Tristram rode through a forest and saw ten men 

fighting, and one man did battle against nine. So he 
rode to the knights and cried to them, bidding them 
cease their battle, for they did themselves great shame, 
so many knights to fight against one. Then answered 
the master of the knights (his name was Sir Breuse sans 
Pitie, who was at that time the most villanous knight 
living) : "Sir knight, what have ye to do to meddle with 
us? If ye be wise depart on your way as you came, 
for this knight shall not escape us." "That were pity," 
said Sir Tristram, "that so good a knight should be 
slain so cowardly; therefore I warn you I will succor 
him with all my puissance." 

Then Sir Tristram alighted off his horse, because they 
were on foot, that they should not slay his horse. And 
he smote on the right hand and on the left so vigorously 
that well-nigh at every stroke he struck down a knight. 
At last they fled, with Breuse sans Pitie, into the tower, 
and shut Sir Tristram without the gate. Then Sir 
Tristram returned back to the rescued knight, and found 
him sitting under a tree, sore wourlded. "Fair knight," 
said he. "how is it with you?" "Sir knight," said Sir 
Palamedes, for he it was, "I thank you of your great 
goodness, for ye have rescued me from death." "What 
is your name?" said Sir Tristram. He said, "My name 
is Sir Palamedes." "Say ye so?" said Sir Tristram; 
"now know that thou art the man in the world that 1 
most hate ; therefore make thee ready, for I will do bat- 
tle with thee." "What is your name?" said Sir Pala- 
medes. "My name is Sir Tristram, yotir mortal enemy." 




jLz^J^uX-i :^L J..'. 



THE ROUND TABLE. 

From a photograph. This supposed relic of King Arthur and his Knights now 
hangs in the CJreat Hall ol the Castle of Winchester (Camelp-' 




SIR GALAHAD. 
From painting by George Frederick Watts. 



TRISTRAM'S BATTLE WITH LAUNCELOT 465 

"It may be so," said Sir Palamedes ; "but you have done 
overmuch for me this day, that I should fight with you. 
Moreover, it will be no honor for you to have to do 
with me, for you are fresh and I am wounded. There- 
fore, if you will needs have to do with me, assign 
me a day, and I shall meet you without fail." "You 
say well," said Sir Tristram; "now I assign you to meet 
me in the meadow by the river of Camelot, where Mer- 
lin set the monument." So they were agreed. Then 
they departed and took their ways diverse. Sir Tristram 
passed through a great forest into a plain, till he came 
to a priory, and there he reposed him with a good- man 
six days. 

Then departed Sir Tristram, and rode straight into 
Camelot to the monument of Merlin, and there he 
looked about him for Sir Palamedes. And he perceived 
a seemly knight, who came riding against him all in 
white, with a covered shield. When he came nigh Sir 
Tristram said aloud, "Welcome, sir knight, and well 
and truly have you kept your promise." Then they 
made ready their shields and spears, and came together 
with all the might of their horses, so fiercely, that both 
the horses and the knights fell to the earth. And as 
soon as they might they